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.
Doyle’s take on Dublin is shown through his anonymous portraits of people on the city’s streets. The unposed subjects’ world-weary expressions and windswept appearances are portrayed in a grotesque way, the struggles of city-life revealed in these guerrilla-style images. The three dimensionality and curious nature of the photographs make the subjects look like they are in constant motion. With Dublin as the backdrop, a glaring light, making each shot theatrical and dramatic, illuminates the images.
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.
Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni are a French and Italian photographer duo who focus on documentary and also personal, intimate photography. Their monochrome projects are Forcella – an extensive work covering the mafia-ridden part of town in Naples and Same Tense – a stream of consciousness project, exploring time and living in the moment, free of memories. Their high impact black and white images of the apparently meaningless everyday, fuse nature and human subjects in one.
Photography Daido MoriyamaThe best photographers working in black and white
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.
Up-and-coming Japanese photographer, Tonomura works in both monochrome and colour. Her sequel series They Called Me Yukari captures her subjects in a darkly erotic, mysterious way. The images show blurry figures groping in the shadows, entangled and bursting with sexual energy. Her debut collection Mama Love portrayed her mother in bed with a lover, the images showing an obscure lover and focusing distinctly on Tonomura’s mother – this is her way of exploring her immediate family and their relationships.
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.
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.
In a world that is predominantly ruled by colour images – nowadays everyone is a photographer, and their solo exhibitions can be viewed on Instagram – it’s rare to come across artists who primarily work in black and white. Photography was born black and white, and some photographers choose to continue this tradition, while working on evolving the visual aesthetics of this raw art form.
Boogie Daido Moriyama Joel Peter Witkin Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison Roger Ballen Sally Mann
This Belgrade-born, Brooklyn-based photographer shoots almost exclusively with black and white film; his work is the real deal. From gangs in New York City projects to skinheads in Serbia, from the streets of Tokyo to the back roads of Kingston… Yeah, we’re not trying to romanticize it, but he roams wide and deep, and catches potent, definitive moments effortlessly amidst the chaos. It’s photojournalism so good, it’s art. The grayscale, grainy grittiness is a perfect stylistic fit.
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.
Magazine Galleries Photography The Most Innovative Photographers Working in Black & White
Zownir’s subjects are the lost, the forgotten and the misfits. Spending nine years of his life capturing the hidden subcultures of New York and documenting sex workers, drug addicts and the everyday New Yorker in black and white, his fuel was the sexual and creative energy of the city. In 1995 when travelling to Moscow, he documented the homeless crisis in the city – a public tragedy he felt couldn’t be ignored. Zownir’s work captures the subjects in specific moments in time – through highly visual and often heartbreakingly dark images.
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In honour of this timeless art form and in celebration of contemporary black and white photography we have picked out our ten favourite photographers from MONO: Volume Two – published by Gomma Books – a tome that has amalgamated the work of old-favourites along with new talent.
PhotographyListsTop TenPhotographersDaido MoriyamaMiron ZownirStreet Photography
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.
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.
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.
Working with issues like abandonment, mental illness, erotica and poverty, these visionaries shut down black and white photography’s naysayers
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.
Veteran Japanese avant-garde photographer Daido Moriyama became known for capturing the post-war breakdown of traditional Japanese values. His grainy, blurred and distorted photographs now capture everyday life and objects in a way that is both beautiful and grotesque. Documenting his surroundings, his artistic vision spans from cropped urban landscapes to picturing the ‘stranger’ in the city. Discarded cigarette butts, tyres and shoes are portrayed in a uniquely realistic way. Moriyama’s world is one of fragmentation and dream-like existence, where the urban and rural sometimes blur into one.
Cover image by Haruka Sakaguchi. Want to see more of our favorite portfolios? Check out the best online portfolios by Format’s best… Fashion photographers Portrait photographers Wedding photographers Illustrators Designers Artists using animated GIFs
Black’s projects portray issues like migration, farming, poverty and the environment in his native rural California and in southern Mexico. The bleak reality of humanity’s battle with nature – the sun’s heat and the suffocating dust can almost be felt through the photographs. Black captures the changes effecting the overpopulated Earth, like violence, draught, mountain erosion and deforestation.
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.
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.
Historically, quintessential names like Diane Arbus, who documented the lives of the misfits of New York in the mid-1900s, and Robert Frank, whose book The Americans portraying post-war America has become one of the most iconic black and white street photography collections ever, continue to be some of the most celebrated photographers. Their use of extensive methods to convey their artistic visions and emotions with the help of contrast, texture and graphic composition successfully highlighted the challenges their subjects faced – a tradition continued by current photographers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In his on-going project Butterflies, Typaldos highlights the issues of the socially created traumas and stigmatisations of mental illness. His subjects are the vulnerable men and women in run-down psychiatric institutions in Ghana and Kosovo. The confrontational series shows the fragile subjects in clear close-ups, bringing their plight to the forefront and making it impossible to look away.
Once a given, the absence of color in photography from the last few decades is now a deliberate choice, not a technological limitation. So why would a modern photographer opt for black and white, forgoing those vivid Lomo hues or subtle customized tones of an advanced SLR? Here are a few current big shots who don’t care for color, for whom shooting in black and white allows a specific style, a certain punch, a special magic their vision demands. Check ’em out in our slideshow and let us know if we missed anyone.
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.
Russian-born Posner’s series No Such Records and On Second Thoughts are an exploration into the personal and psychological. No Such Records captures the solitude of roaming the LA and Tijuana streets by night – bars, night shelter hotels and shadowy figures fade away in the grainy, distorted photographs. On Second Thoughts centres on capturing St Petersburg’s psyche through afterthought and memory – and explores how these become twisted with time.
The Belgian photographer creates an enclosed and isolated world that is made up of blacks, whites and greys. Braeckman’s abstract vision captures haunted, isolated and imposing industrial buildings – so dark that the picture can’t be clearly deciphered – that are reduced to a dark outline. These echoing warehouses seem shrouded in illusion and the sense that time’s standing still is inescapable. Capturing seemingly unimportant objects and places, Braeckman’s work moves between abstraction and representation – making it hard to tell if the images are paintings or photographs.
Displayed alongside Jeffrey Silverthorne at Galerie VU’, Monduit’s Into My Song project is dramatic, powerful and striking. Her work “captures the invisible forces of childhood that resurfaces without warning.” Strange, intimate and intense, her photography is influenced by her theatrical background, capturing youth in abstract, erotic and blurry imagery. Relying on her instincts, Monduit’s work is produced with little forethought or planning.
Modern-day photographers like Daido Moriyama, Igor Posner, Miron Zownir and Eamonn Doyle use abstraction and graphical means to get their messages across. These visionaries document issues like abandonment, mental illness, erotica and poverty. Their work obliterates the false preconception that black and white photography is outdated and less expressive.
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.