There are two schools of thought when it comes to professional photography. The purists love the timeless sophistication of black and white, whilst others delight in the full visual experience of colour images. As a professional family portrait photographer, I encompass a range of ages and styles including maternity photo session, newborn photography alongside my family photoshoots. Many of my customers ask ‘Are portraits better in black & white?’, so what’s the answer?
When it comes to family portraits, you might have black and white images of grandparents and other relatives hanging on the wall. By selecting a couple of black and white images from the family photoshoot collection, you can create a harmonious and timeless connection that spans the generations.
Family photography is a fun experience, which shares the unique personality of the group. Some families love colour, others prefer black and white, so it’s simply a matter of preference. I also offer images in warm sepia or cool cynatone, so there is plenty of choice.
For all family photoshoots, aim to coordinate what you wear and avoid strong patterned outfits. This will create harmony and prevents they eye being distracted from your faces.
In my experience as a professional photographer, this is how to take black and white portraits:
1. The best black and white images are captured intentionally, rather than selecting the medium after the event. Therefore, when shooting black and white portraits, my camera and lighting are set up for that mode.
2. Compelling images come when you start to see in black and white. That means having an eye for light and areas of contrast.
3. The viewer will be drawn to the lightest elements in the family portrait, so I always ensure there isn’t something in the background that will distract attention from the faces of my subjects.
4. The contrast between light and dark doesn’t have to be dramatic. Sometimes gentle tonal variation can create incredible depth in an image.
5. Lighting is critical for black and white family portraits. Within my photography studio, lighting equipment provides great control over the direction and intensity of light. This allows me to trial different effects. For outdoor photography, the high contrast winter light can be the perfect way to create those classic black and white images.
Many of my customers ask ‘Are family portraits better in black & white?’, so what’s the answer? The good news is that you can enjoy the best of both worlds! I have trained in both colour and black & white photography and I love both styles.
I will present images that look spectacular in black and white in the final collection. If would like to display the images together, like a three in a frame tryptic, I can always adjust them to the same finish, so that they match.
I have always shot with pro Nikon equipment. The quality of the digital sensors in their cameras is exceptional and they’re a perfect fit for family portraiture. Fancy trying out some family shots yourself? This article from Nikon will give you some great tips.
While there are some fantastic modern Nikon lenses, I love my fixed lenses and the fact that I can still use the old-fashioned mounts. Using a combination of both during your family photo shoot helps to create the best images.
I still adore my Bowens lights, https://bowens.co.uk/inspiration but I’m also a big fan of my new Godox kit for using on location. Compact and lightweight, it’s easy to transport and extremely versatile. https://godox.com/gallery/
And lastly, my favourite piece of kit in my studio is my purpose built LuxS wall mount for my studio lights. The boom arm allows me complete control over my lighting while keeping stands and cables safely away from your little ones. https://luxs.biz/luxs-wall-mounted-scissor-studio-light-boom.