Every artist has their favorite medium and for Michael Broyles, that medium is black and white photography. But why choose to shoot photographs in only two colors when the world is so colorful? Michael Broyles answers that question and more in this inside peek at his craft.
What is the appeal of capturing portraits in black and white?
Put simply, black and white photography has both a subtle beauty and a timeless quality, eliciting feelings of nostalgia. I am not surprised about this reaction to black and white photography as the medium has been around much longer than color photography. It is what our great grandparents and great-great grandparents grew up with. It possesses a retro, vintage feel that color photos cannot capture. I also appreciate how black and white photography picks up on a person’s character. I feel like I can see a person’s persona much more distinctly in black and white.
What do you focus on when taking black and white photos?
As a portrait artist, my mantra for black and white photography is “less is more.” Unlike color photography, there are fewer distractions with black and white photography and your subject is reduced to the bare essentials. With little to draw the eye to the background, I like to make a person’s face the focal point. In particular, I like to draw attention to the eyes. The eyes are truly “windows to the soul.” They are where a person’s personality really shines through.
How do you determine when to use black and white versus color photography?
I always make a point to ask my clients during our initial consultation if they have a preference. Not everyone likes black and white prints, and others may be a little hesitant. That’s okay. I like to give people a choice. I will show clients some images in color and in black and white. Eighty percent of clients end up going with the black and white prints. I have heard a number of reasons why they chose to go with black and white, from “I can see my face so much better” and “there are not as many distractions—the couple is truly the focus of the photo” to “there is just something timeless about black and white.”
What inspired you to work with black and white photography in the first place?
Black and white photography speaks to me in a way that color photography does not. It has an aesthetic and artistic flair that suggest another time and place. You can use it to play up certain emotions, such as nostalgia, sadness, or seriousness; vary the composition and texture of a photo with things like shapes, light, and shadows; and or soften blemishes and imperfections. There is a lot more to black and white photography than meets the eye.
Do you have any tips to share to prepare for a black and white photo shoot?
Keep it simple, from your choice of background to your outfit. The subject should be the focus of a black and white portrait. It is a timeless technique that yields consistently beautiful results.
Black and white is a classic combination any time of the year, which is why Michael Broyles Photography is offering a special Black and White Sale this March. Schedule a black and white photo shoot and you will receive 50% off all black and white prints. Want to learn more? Schedule your consultation with Michael Broyles Photography today!