Benefits of Black and White Photography In Addition to Color

Black and White Photography by Brad Armstrong in Phoenix AZ

Ever since the first monochromatic daguerreotypes came out in the 1800s, photographers have been experimenting with color in one way or another. The advent of true color captures not only came about through all their tinkering and experimenting, but it also brought about the choice – to go color or not. In this day and age of digital photography, many might wonder if the choice is even worth discussing, as we can now capture colors more clearly and accurately than ever before. Let’s look at the answers and let you decide for yourself.

What Are the Benefits of Color Photography?

Color photography can be very useful, whether published in print or online. Color catches the eye. It is considered more appealing and attractive by many people than black and white or other monochromatic renderings. Color can convey the message of your story or webpage better, as well. If you are showing off your new offices, for example, or your new product, it would make sense to exhibit them in all their real, colorful existence. Color can also evoke an emotion. Joy, happiness, contentment, anger, love – all have colors easily associated with them. Want to show the happiness your services can create in the lives of others? Then bright, shiny, color-filled images are probably the best. So, with all that color photography has to offer your print materials and online properties, is there any use to using black and white photography at all?

What Are the Benefits of Black and White Photography?

Black and white (or other monochromatic) photography can and does have its place in commercial photography settings. Black and white photos show off the texture and contrasts – lights and darks – of the subject much more clearly than color images ever can. So, if you want to show these aspects more than the subject itself, black and white is your answer. Black and white, and sepia-toned photography too, can appear more timeless, more classic. We tend to associate it with days gone by, and perhaps even with bygone glamour and/or innocence. Does your business have a classic, timeless feel? Then black and white may be the answer for you.

What about your background? With print materials, your background probably doesn’t matter as much, but with online properties and platforms, backgrounds can be very busy and colorful. Black and white photography may make your images stand out and be more visible. And let’s talk about emotions for a moment. Black and white photography can, as we said, evoke a sense of nostalgia. It can also convey sadness or seriousness, too. If you’re covering a life-or-death seriousness type of subject, or a tragic sadness, then black and white images may be better suited to your purposes. Black and white photography is also considered by many to be more “artsy” than using color.

Ultimately, it is the message you wish your final product – brochure, website, press kit, etc. – that will determine whether to use color photos, black and white images, or a mixture of both. Your professional photographer may also have some suggestions as to what type of image to produce for each scenario or setting. The world may be in all living color, but your photos don’t always have to be.

Photography for Online Uses

Photos can increase online engagement

Statistics show that web content – blog posts, websites, social media profiles and accounts – with images get better reader and user response than those without. What does that mean for you, the website manager/owner, and me, your photographer? That means that we need to consider the use of photographs for your online properties. Now, as your photographer, I know what I’m doing when it comes to the technical aspects of photography for online purposes. For you, as the individual with the business online, it means that you have several things to consider before you hire me to take those photos. We’re going to look at some of those today.

Headshots for profiles

Headshots for online profiles

Your online profiles, be they for the “about our team” section of your website or your accounts on LinkedIn or Facebook, need to have quality, professional photography. A good headshot is still the rule of the day, but it doesn’t have to be a stuffy looking headshot anymore. You still want a good quality professional looking shot, but it can be outdoors, or in more casual clothing than suit and tie. (We’ll discuss business casual in a bit.) Many websites are choosing to go with “action” shots too, instead of posed stills. You at your desk, for example, or in an appropriate “work” setting. Your head shot is the first impression many people will get of you. You want it to be good, but not too unlike you in appearance or personality.

Photos for websites and online viewing

Photos for websites

There are a few guidelines for photos for use on websites and other areas of online viewing. Some of them include:

Make sure your selected photos neither clash with, no disappear into, your website’s background. That’s a reason why Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr all use neutral backgrounds.
• Make sure they are large enough to be viewed properly, but not so large as to slow load time. Most bloggers prefer photos at least 600 pixels by 400 pixels for this reason.
Ensure that your photos are appropriate to the message or content they are accompanying. When writing about your “fun” company, for example, don’t have everyone staged in their very best. Show some scenes of relaxed, casually dressed staff.
• Keep the tone professional, but not false. There’s a term “business casual” that really applies to many businesses, but they are afraid to show it online for some reason. Show your staff dressed in their casual attire. Photograph them while engaging in a coffee break, a company picnic, or a breakfast meeting – without all the stuffy suits and briefcases. But only do it if that is the true nature of your company. If yours is the type of firm that requires professional dress all day, every day, stick with it in your photos. You want your photos to be examples of the real you and your company.

Photos for social media

Social Media Profile Photos

Social media opens up a whole new ballgame when it comes to sharing photos. You can expect to find posed shots on most companies’ social media sites. But you can also expect those candid, more casual shots, too, because of the immediate nature of many social media postings. It’s completely appropriate to take action shots of employees working, or taking a break, or attending a conference or dinner meeting.

It’s completely appropriate to show a less-serious side, as well, such as sponsoring a community event or the clowns from the IT department in their Halloween costumes. Or the sales department celebrating a big month with a little office Nerf gun cubicle wars. But only if it really happens. Social media is the kind of place to “let your hair down” and your followers expect that. Give it to them with more casual “behind the scenes” photos from your firm.

Online photography need not be a big concern, as long as you keep it high quality, appropriate to the platform and purpose, and genuine. A professional photographer can help you acquire the photography your firm needs for its online use. Like we said, we have the tech skills. We just need the willing subjects to snap photos of.

Choosing the Right Setting for Your Photo Shoot

Photo Shoot Setting TipsWhen it comes to photo shoots, we often worry about our wardrobe, our hair, our make up – in short the WHO is being photographed. And sometimes, the WHY we are being photographed plays a big part – Stan’s retirement party, the firm’s big charity event, the new office’s ribbon cutting. But we never really give much thought to the WHERE we are being photographed, and that’s a shame. Setting is one of, if not THE most important things to take into consideration. Let’s look at why the WHERE of our photo shoot is so vital to the success of our finished photos.

Light and Shadow

You don’t want your photos to come out looking too dark and gloomy, nor do you want so much light that everyone and everything looks washed out. Granted, a photographer worth their weight can correct some lighting issues with either flash or filters, but even the best can only do so much. Imagine this: you’ve decided to do your new professional shoot in your new office. It’s got dark wood paneling, a dark wood desk, dark carpet, and you are in a dark suit. With no overhead lighting. And it’s a cloudy day. Are you looking to impress, or depress, your colleagues, clients and staff?

Subliminal Setting Statements

You will not be the only thing in the photos. The background will be visible, even if blurred from the tight focus on your face or body. What does the chosen background say about you? Why is the head of the hip, edgy graphic design firm in front of a rose garden straight out of Victorian Days? Or the staff of an environmental non-profit shot in an office spilling over with paper files, fluorescent lighting and enough plastic office furniture to support a small oil-producing nation? Does your setting reflect the image and message of your firm? If not, then why use it? You CAN go for a touch of irony or humor – imagine the edgy graphics guys in the senior center, for example. But if that’s not the case, then you seriously want to consider just what your surroundings are going to say about you when viewed in your finished photos.

Background Noise

In the world of photography, background noise is all the “stuff” in the background of the photos. As we said, sometimes all that “stuff” will be little more than a blur depending on the focus used. But as we’ve also said, when it IS visible, it becomes a huge factor in your photos. You want a background that is as “clean” and noise-free as possible. That’s why most of those old wretched school photos used a simple plain neutral-colored backdrop. It made everybody look good. (Well, relatively speaking. Whoever looked good in their 5th grade photos?) You need to have the same consideration for your corporate shots, as well. A noisy background needs a quiet subject – those flowers might look good behind you in your plain, dark suit, for example. But a mixed shot of staff in different colors, prints and styles, not to mention shapes? Go for a plain setting, like a bench with a wall behind it. The busier the foreground, the quieter and stiller that background has to be.

Your corporate photo shoot’s setting plays a big part in the quality of the finished photos. Choosing your setting can be as important as choosing your wardrobe or hair style for the big day. One thing you may want to do is to choose several settings, and let your photographer choose which one he or she thinks best suited to the day and the occasion. Choose wisely and well, and you’ll not have to regret your decision. (Now, those 5th grade photos? That’s another story altogether.)