Black & White portraits in the studio
Sometimes colour only distracts. A black & white portrait is photography in its purest form, with more space for character. Jeroen Bouman shows a series of black & white portraits shot in the studio.
The present generation of digital photographers has never had their fingers submerged in developer or fixing agent. They often don’t realize that a black & white portrait is more than just a colour photo converted to black & white. Without colour, the only tool left at your disposal is contrast. Contrast to manipulate the different shades of grey.
Light is crucial, it should never be too flat in black & white photography. Shadows show the direction of light, and shape a face. But the creation of a true black & white portrait takes place after the shoot, in the post processing. Analog or digital, that’s irrelevant. Techniques known as burning and dodging allow the photographer to accentuate certain elements and strengthen expressiveness by guiding the viewers eye through a photo.
“During my first year at the photo academy I noticed that some fellow students continued to struggle with black & white printing techniques. They never really mastered it during the second year when we started with colour photography. A black & white portrait is simply a specialty of its own.”