If there’s something we all carry with us everyday, it’s our phones. With the cameras in them improving every year, what better way to start capturing photos? Using your phone allows you to put exposure on the back burner, allowing you to focus more on composition instead.
New York photographer Lee Bullitt takes intimate portraits on analog film, often shooting in black and white. Bullitt introduces her work via one page which lists selected photo series, and includes separate pages for her bio and press mentions to keep things organized. Her unique logo helps make her portfolio memorable.
Shooting from the hip with your camera is similar to shooting from the hip with a gun; it’s incredibly inaccurate.
When you take your eyes out of the equation, you start to see different results that can work just as easily and, without even realising it, you will be implementing compositional techniques that you haven’t even learned about yet.
You simply take a certain theme, such as a colour, an object, or even an idea such as contrast. Spend an entire day only shooting objects that suit that day’s theme.
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This is a fairly common project idea and one that I’ve attempted myself in the past but, I must say, it’s much harder than it seems. I actually only made it about three months before I stopped.
By starting this project yourself, you’ll begin to see things in a different light and, rather than just colour, your eyes will become better at recognising different shapes and forms.
Not only will this project document your photography but yourself as a person too. The beauty of having yourself as a subject is that you never have to look for a model.
To celebrate the creative talent that’s opting out of color, we put together this list of 20 photographers that has mastered shooting black and white in their own style. They prove that you don’t need color to be captivating.
Photowalks are great for finding inspiration with photography because you explore new places, actively thinking about how you can take photos of certain objects. This leads to some really interesting photos which you wouldn’t otherwise have taken.
Think about the last time you used your camera… when was that?
Fashion photographer Darryl Richardson has shot for Brooklyn’s Flatbush Zombies, and done backstage shoots for brands like Hood By Air, Maison Kitsune, and Alexander Wang. He’s also shot street scenes in cities from Tokyo to Mexico City. Richardson separates his portfolio into fashion and travel photography, allowing for easy navigation of his diverse work. A super minimal menu gives his portfolio a modern vibe.
The new, lower angle can work really well, even if you want to see what you’re doing. Try using live view to compose the shot if you’re struggling to end up with the result you’re looking for.
If you don’t want the pressure of taking a photo every day, or you simply don’t have the time, this is a great way to explore your photography skills and track your progress.
The last time you lugged around a big, heavy camera and took lots of photos?
Shooting with a single theme is a great way to start to broaden the objects that you shoot.
Whether it’s photographing ancient ruins in Utah or mountains in Montana (as seen here), photographer Rob Outlaw knows what makes a landscape photo work. The established American photographer has been documenting scenery stateside for over thirty years. He creates an elegant online portfolio with a subdued grey background that makes his black and white images pop.
The idea is that you take a photo every day and submit it to a website, or even just your personal archive so that, by the end of the year, you have something to look back on and see how much you’ve improved. You also get a record of your year.
Take photos everyday only with this project, the subject is already decided upon: yourself.
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Black and white is nothing new when it comes to art; it’s been going on since the beginning of time. Art photography is similar in that it started out as black and white due to technical limitations, way before the dawn of colour film.
For some of us, it’s yesterday but there will be plenty of people for whom it was weeks ago.
The basic idea is that you take a photo with a 50mm lens every day, for 50 days. By the end of it, you will have some beautiful shots that focus around you making the most out of what you’ve got.
This gives a new, fresh perspective on your composition as well as creating shots by accident that you may not otherwise have thought to take. By taking away the viewfinder, you have to use your instincts to capture a photo, which can be very refreshing.
Charlotte Navio is a French photographer based in Paris. She’s worked with brands like L’Oreal, Givenchy, and Lancome. Navio uses a vertically scrolling grid theme to display her portrait work, including lots of classic black and white shots. A floating, pastel-hued menu allows access to other portfolio pages without distracting from her work.
I always think that I know what I’m going to capture when I take a photo from the hip but only on very rare occasions do I actually capture what I thought I would.
I personally recommend starting with colour as it can be so powerful, yet challenging at the same time.
The photos will start to depict your mood, along with the various events that are happening in the world at the time. It’s like a journal that you don’t have to share with anyone if you don’t want to but it will continue to help your photography evolve as you’re forced to think of new ideas for the same subject.
Letter: Firstly, you can simply capture images of letters that you see about. This will open your eyes to the world around you and encourage you to see it in a more photographic way. Object: Instead of seeing a physical letter on a sign, look for objects that represent the same shape as the letter that you’re trying to capture such as an s-shape in a river.
This is slightly more difficult but will have more positive effects as you’re forced to look a little deeper into what you see around you. Action: Rather than looking for a physical letter, look for an action that represents one.
This sounds easier than the other two – all you have to do is think of 26 actions – but it’s really not. Not only do you have to find these naturally occurring actions but they need to be easily recognised by anyone looking at the image too.
The reason I recommend this project is because understanding composition is the most important factor in taking great photos. Just using your camera phone everyday and thinking about what you have to do to take a great photo is going to dramatically improve your photography.
Carrying your camera everywhere can become a bit of a drag and, often, the quality of the photo isn’t necessarily related to the quality of the camera you’re using – it can rely on the image itself.
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This London photographer and skateboarder captures the exploits of a French skate crew beautifully in candid analog photos. His black and white photography feels especially classic. Nice introduces his portfolio website via a vertical scroll of his best shots, with a sidebar menu linking to different series.
This is a great idea for a project because it takes such a long time to master – you can document your improvements as time passes.
I take my camera most places when I’m out walking these days because you never know when you’re going to see something worth capturing.
Based in Austria, Sarah Gallaun is a portrait and fashion photographer. She mixes black and white and color images for a varied and interesting online portfolio. Gallaun has worked with Monki, and been featured in outlets like Cake and Contributor magazine.
Based in Seattle, Sebastian Cvitanic specializes in analog photography, capturing striking black and white portraits as well as lively street snapshots. Cvitanic aims to take photos that are beautiful in their simplicity, working in a classic, straightforward style. Organizing images into separate galleries of black and white portraits, color portraits, couples, and other categories keeps his portfolio site easy to navigate.
If you’re looking to start an A-Z project, I would suggest the object one first, perhaps once a week for the first half of the year, and then the action one second. That way, by the end of the year, you have images to match up to each other, and a point of comparison for each. The same project can also be done with numbers.
The main difference is that you can add a theme to each week, whether you want to take photos of a particular object, in a certain place, or on a different photowalk.
English photographer Jack French’s black and white photos are incredibly peaceful. “I’m interested in how to get closer and deeper into nature using photography,” says French in his portfolio bio. On his site, he presents three very simple galleries of work: Woods, Rock, and Water. The minimal style fits well with French’s quiet, contemplative photography.
As you can probably guess, this project borrows a lot of ideas from the 365 project only, instead of coming up with something every day, you come up with something each week.
Create your own black and white photography portfolio using Format. It’s free for 14 days, no credit card required.
One thing I would recommend not doing is using photography apps that mainly just add effects and filters to photos. This is not improving your photography – you’re merely lulling yourself into a false sense of pride over a photo which you didn’t do by yourself.
Based in Belgium, Jean-François Flamey takes enigmatic photos on film. His black and white images are eerie, artfully unfocused, capturing brief moments in time. Flamey arranges his photos in a collage-like format across a horizontal scroll, exhibiting a number of different, compelling series.
Even though the majority of photography is done automatically on digital cameras, black and white still lives on today. The beauty of black and white photography is that it focuses on visual elements such as tone, texture and shape.
People are always making excuses for why they can’t take a certain type of photo and it usually comes down to the gear they’re using. When you eliminate this excuse and just focus on taking great photos, you’ll find that the photos come out a lot better than you expected.
No one can capture freckles as well as Agata Serge does. The Polish photographer, who is currently based in Łódź, Poland, excels at sharply focused portraits and editorial shoots. She has won a number of awards for her photography, including International Photographer of the Year in 2016, and she was included in New Dutch Photography Talent in 2014. Serge keeps her portfolio simple with a classic logo.
Charlee Black is a photographer based in the American Midwest. She specializes in gorgeous, up-close black and white portraits, and uses a vertically scrolling theme to show them off in a way that grabs the viewer’s attention.
London fashion photographer Rebecca Naen often shoots on 35mm film, working with magazines like Coeval, Oyster, and Client. She offers a brief introduction to her portfolio with an overview gallery, and then organizes the rest of her work by dividing it between personal and editorial images.
I got into light painting because I found that I was so busy that the only time I had left available to take photos was at night. This meant that I did a lot of night photography, naturally leading on to light painting.
You could simply use your computer to document yourself everyday for the next year but it’s much more interesting when you try to break free from your computer and come up with something different.
Based in Southern California, Cinthya Guillen specializes in black and white analog photographs. In her Commuter Series, seen here, the most prosaic train stations seem interesting when framed in film photos. Guillen uses a minimal theme, without much text, to keep the focus on her work.
This is a project that I’m planning for next year. It involves taking photos of images that represent the letters of the alphabet, which can be done in three different ways:
Based between Berlin and Scandinavia, photographer Pernille Sandberg shoots fashion and fine art photos, mostly in black and white. Whether she’s creating abstract portraits or documenting backstage moments at runway shows, Pernille’s images are powerful. She uses a minimal sidebar theme to sort her work into categories like art, portrait, and fashion series.
This is very similar to light graffiti, the main difference being that, with graffiti, you’re using the light source as the subject, to create cool shapes in the air, rather than using it to paint light onto a dark scene. It’s actually a lot of fun to try and you could even combine this project with others, such as the A-Z.
From English photographer Josh Nice who documents skateboarders across Europe, to New York street photographer Andre D. Wagner who develops his own film, these portfolios set the standard for what’s possible in black and white.
The trouble with learning even very basic composition techniques is that you start to think of these as rules rather than guidelines.
Light painting involves opening your camera’s shutter long enough to draw in the darkness with a light source, such as a torch or a lantern and effectively painting inside a photo.
A photowalk doesn’t have to be a specific walk with the sole purpose of taking photos, it can just be a time when you’re out of the house with your camera.
Highlights of this Dutch photographer’s portfolio include a compelling portrait study of author Bredje Hofstede, pictured here, as well as a black and white photo project called Looking At The Other, in which Kars asked fellow train riders in the New York subway system to take her photo. Kars displays photos one by one for a minimal, distraction-free portfolio.
Photographer Andre D. Wagner works exclusively with analog film, developing his own prints in a traditional darkroom. Originally from Nebraska, he can now typically be found in New York City, where he excels at capturing street scenes that are full of energy. His black and white photos have a classic feel. Wagner displays his images one by one, keeping galleries short.
Your knowledge of depth of field and aperture will also greatly improve because the results are much more extreme at the widest apertures. If there was anything that you weren’t sure about, you’ll soon know all about it with this project.
Since the introduction of color film in 1958, black and white photography has taken on a classic, nostalgic feel. It’s a universal way for present-day photographers to create a retro look. It’s not an easy style to work with, however. Black and white photography can be extremely challenging to keep interesting and dynamic—after all, the final image won’t look like what you see through the viewfinder.
As we draw closer to the end of 2011, the standard practice of coming up with a new year’s resolution looms ever closer and, for all of us, there’s always room to improve our photography.
The nifty 50 challenge takes this lens and really helps you to get the most out of it.
Think how much your photography would improve if you took photos every day. That’s the basic premise of this project and, I must say, it really does work. I would find myself dedicating time towards finding something new to take a photo of every day and trying to make it interesting.
This year, I attempted a couple of photography projects and, as I took more and more photos, I found that they were getting better and better. The best way to learn is to practice and what better way to do so than with a fun, creative photography project.
When you do this a lot, you start to really understand what certain objects or colours do for various photos and how you can use them to your advantage. It also helps you to find something interesting in something boring, as you have to try and make everyday objects worth looking at.
This is an exercise in both your skill and imagination as a photographer.
New York photographer Richard Rothman has work in the permanent collections of institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Rothman’s black and white photography is meditative and quiet, capturing unexpected moments of depth. He gives context to his work right away by using his About page as him home page on his online portfolio.
Based in Amsterdam, Lieke Romeijn takes beautiful, delicate analog portraits, as well as photos of the places she visits. Romeijn organizes her images with a grid theme, which allows separate series to stand alone as whole bodies of work.
This enigmatic photographer doesn’t share much information on her portfolio, but her photos are stunning. In addition to two series of self portraits, she’s also shot black and white photos of a range of musicians. Her self portraits, in which she’s often floating underwater, are frequently superimposed over images of plants, giving the work an organic, abstract feel.
Originally from Japan, and now based in Brooklyn, Haruka Sakaguchi’s black and white photography is full of life. Whether she’s shooting portraits or documenting her surroundings on travels across the United States and elsewhere, Sakaguchi’s images are powerful and carefully considered. She uses a classic serif font to give her portfolio a professional feel.
Self portraits sound really easy but they’re not at all because, once you’ve taken more than about 10, it becomes a lot harder to come up with original ideas.
Magazine Galleries Photography The Most Innovative Photographers Working in Black & White
As anyone who’s spent any real time on this website will know, I love to recommend the 50mm f/1.8 to people because it’s a great upgrade for the price.
When I had a great idea, or found something really interesting, the results were great but I found that I was so busy with other things that a lot of my photos weren’t that interesting. If you have the stamina to keep it up for the whole year, this is definitely the project for you.