This article contains media that the editors have flagged as NSFW.
As a boudoir photographer for over seven years, I am always seeking new ways to keep the artistic appeal to my images. Sometimes we work so hard to create something so epic, that we forget about that simplicity is usually the key to greatness.
Creatively Diving Into The Past
A huge step into the world of color photography was due to the introduction of Kodachrome in 1936. Color correction took a another step in 2008 with the version of CS4 releasing the adjustment panel. Users had an advantage than those before to improve on color in a whole new workflow.
This ability to work color into so many different levels may also have lead to the current desire to jump back to the simplicity of black and white images. Color has somewhat taken away the main foundation of an image. Tone, texture, and contrast are key features that color sometimes overwhelms and takes focus from.
While color boudoir photography can be sultry and beautiful in its own way, there is just something captivating about the mood of a black and white image. Kara Marie shows a perfect example on how you can take the smaller distractions in the background out of the final image without deleting them entirely. The background is blended into shades of dark but not creating a pure black. The levels of color themselves lend way to creating a few color coordinates in the light and dark areas. This creates depth yet maintaining the eye to be drawn to the subject. The shaded between light and dark in the black areas on skin tone also create excellent highlights and accent strong features.
(image used with permission from Kara Marie Boudoir)
Using Light to Sculpt
Lighting with a purpose to sculpt a figure can bring dramatic results for a black and white image. The best approach to this kind of dramatic look is to light with the loss of color in mind. Lynn Clark demonstrates this by allowing the light to fill into the light spots, and keeping the darker areas where they fall. The shape of the figure will be transformed into telling us where the color would have been. It shows us definition in the muscles while still keeping the form soft.
(image used with permission from Lynn Clark)
3 Shades of Separation
When considering the wardrobe or furniture for the idea of black and white imagery, remember that shade will now be the main objective. Make sure you bring a separation to all items otherwise all darks will blend into one another. I knew with the image below I would be working it into a black and white as an option. Creating a few shades of separations between the couch and the material draped over her was important to bring in depth and texture.
More Attention to Details
Focusing in on one aspect of the figure can bring the viewer into a new position. Petra Hermann exhibits this with her close up detailed shot of the client's collar bone and chest. The loss of color draws our eyes to the highlights and texture formed on the skin, rather than the tone of the skin.
(image used with permission from Petra Hermann)
Wall Art in Any Home
The conversion to black and white can also assist more clients purchasing wall art. They will they feel it can blend in any room color as well as go with most any frame. It will reduce the bold feel for those wanting to seem a little more anonymous, yet still maintaining the confidence she/he felt that day in your studio.
The Simplicity Behind It All
Creating black and white imagery has never really faded out. Many photographers have dedicated their entire portfolios just to keeping true to the black and white film look. When creating this type it is common for new photographers to simply pull down the saturation in an adjustment layer. With this method, contrast is affected and will not create the dimensions that make the image pop. Adding levels and curves layers to mark onto the image will bring a wow factor without losing the simplicity of the image itself. Play around with black and white conversions and show me in the comments what you came up with!