Black and White Photographs – Expressive Visual Art

The language of photography begins with classic black and white. I have always been fascinated and intrigued by black and white photographs, they are striking and surreal. There is so much of the world to explore and experience, that you can get lost in the wonder of it all. The film camera’s versatility has many ways of capturing any particular moment and scene and transformed into impressions left on the viewer as well as everlasting memories. The black and white photographs they produce show so much expression, it forces you to see things differently and use your creativity and your uniqueness to create a visual story and share with the audience the emotions that you have experienced.

Timeless and classic look

Black and White photographs are endless, as they have been used since the development of the very first images. When I am shooting with a film camera, in monochrome, I feel as if I have gone back into time recreating classic images. They possess a timeless quality! I just love the whole process involved in creating monochrome photographs the old-fashioned way; I feel a certain closeness to them.

Black and white images leave the impression of mystery, elegance, eeriness, moodiness, and creativity. It can also be a bit of an enigma. The film grain adds character and soul to the image; it sometimes looks like a dream. It is a great feeling to be able to continue the tradition of using cameras from the past decades and produce wonderful photos. Black and white photographs tend to leave a sense of history and passage of time that old photos have.

Emphasizes emotion

Black and white photographs possess immense emotion. Whatever the occasion, observing expressions in the eyes, face, hands, can have a massive impact on the viewer. The impact of a mother embracing her child; a child’s laughter; a tear stained face with puffy eyes; a lost soul behind bars trapped and longing for freedom, seems to come out more dramatically in black and white.

There is a connection that we can relate to the subject, you can feel the persons’ grief, loss, joy, frustration or it could be a family photograph that brings back painful, happy, long-lost memories. Scenery, objects can also emphasize emotion, the photograph could be of your childhood home or toys it could also be a scene such as the sun setting on the ocean which reminisces home for me. Monochrome photographs are so expressive, they can tell a story and touch your heart.


Black and white has a range of tones that emphasizes the skin tone adding texture and detail. It highlights a persons features and accentuates depth, contrast, it can give a dramatic or a mysterious feel. Monochrome photographs also create depth, reflection and expression to the eyes. The eyes are so important in a photograph, they tell so much about a person, it is one of the first things you would notice on a persons face, they play a major role in forming facial expressions and bring so much attention.

Scenes such as landscapes, seascapes, mountains or sunsets are breathtaking. Black and white illustrates the beauty of the scenes, using creativity adds intrigue and wonder, the results can be striking. The motions, contrast, texture, lighting, is captivating, draws your eye to the subjects’ such as reflection of the water, glory of sun rays, movement of the sky is magnificent and it is overwhelming. It evokes nostalgia.

Texture, form, pattern, tone

Elements such as texture, line, form, shape, pattern, tones are an important role in a photograph. They are much more prominent in a black and white photograph, without the distraction of colour it tends to focus on the subjects’ you want to show. Its wide range of greys and whites paints visual art, it can be creative and abstract.

Lines are an important part of composition, they can enhance wider views of the surroundings, create a sense of movement, and outline forms and shapes. Lines lead your eyes onto the intended subject creating a powerful impact. Texture tends to have more definition in monochrome images, they enhance the subjects’ appearance such as rocks, water, trees, buildings, even lines on a persons face. The effects could either be smooth, subtle, rough or dramatic.

Because of the lack of colour, tonal contrast is more noticeable in black and white, the results can be dramatic and creative. It also improves your composition separating dark and light tones, the viewers are drawn to the lightest tones in the image then travels and studies the rest of the image taking in the detail.

Your eyes are instantly drawn to shapes and forms, black and white have the ability to enhance the depth and form to your subject. When observing a good shot, you focus your attention onto the shape and you study the aspects of it. The form is highlighted by light, it is interesting to the viewer because it is three-dimensional and evokes a feeling of a presence. It can make you believe you can reach into the image and touch the subject.

Patterns are more noticeable in black and white photographs, because the colours can sometimes draw away the attention from them. Patterns have repetitive shapes, they can be intricate, abstract and are intriguing to the eyes. It enhances shapes such as natural forms, architecture, fabric and it makes them stand out.


Film cameras capture a variety of stunning and memorable images. The beauty and mesmerizing effect of black and white photographs is very deep, it really grabs your attention and you want to discover and study every detail of the image. Photographs are powerful, they have an effect on people, they’re inspirational, communicative, provocative and can be intimate. Sometimes you are trying to just do more than recreate what is in front of you, using observations and ideas are for you to explore and utilize them in your own way to show the world things they have never seen and cannot replicate.



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