Tips for Black and White Photography

Black and white photography can be intimidating and if we're being honest, misused. It's important to know not only when the right time to shoot black and white photography is, but how to shoot it as well.  Here are some ways that you can add black and white photography to your portfolio: 

Adding Emotions

Shooting black and white photographs can be an extremely effective way to convey emotions and to bring attention to details.  Black and white photographs can be a way to create an intimate and timeless frame due to its nostalgic nature. 

Due to the effect that it creates, it is important that you plan on when to use black and white. You should not just shoot color photography and hope that one of your photos may look good in black and white while you’re editing in post. Your photos will be far more authentic if you plan on using black and white while you’re composing the shot.

Speaking of composing the shot, it’s important to imagine the scene in front of you without the colors. Instead of looking at how the colors interact with each other in the photo, you need to look at how the hues and tones work together in the photo.

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Creating Drama

The most interesting black and white photos can be taken when the contrast between highlights and shadows is extreme. Contrast can also be found in colors (light and dark) and with lines (architectural and otherwise).

Another thing you can do to add drama to a photo is to use shadows to create a contrast. If you’re not able to shoot in a location that provides natural shadows, you can always create your own. You can do this in a studio space or in any location if you have an external flash or man-made light source.

Here are some ways you can create your own shadows:

  • Use hands to create shadows. Use your own hands or the model’s hands to create shadows over wanted areas. For example, you can create interesting lines over a model’s face, using just fingers (theirs or someone’s off-frame).

  • Use a piece of lace or fabric. Place a piece of fabric strategically over your light source to create an intricate shadow pattern over your subject.

  • Some other common objects that can create dramatic shadows include: window blinds, fences, glasses, forks, whisks, etc.

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Don't Over-do It

As we said earlier, black and white photography can be used a little too often. Due to this, it can greatly lose its effect, especially when you're trying to tell a story or convey emotions.

Another place where you shooting over-do it is in post when you're editing.  A feature of shooting in black and white is that it brings out details automatically and they are more noticeable. While this is usually a positive, it can be a negative when it comes to close-up portraits. You don’t want the skin on someone’s face to look rubbery or fake. To avoid this, be cautious with detail and luminance while you’re editing your photos.

Lastly, avoid using black and white photography as a way to try to make photos redeemable. Some people tend to use a black and white filter on photos that didn’t turn out like they wanted them to in color. You may think that a black and white photo will hide your mistakes, but in reality, it usually only highlights those imperfections more.

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Two Days in Stockholm

Our second stop on our honeymoon was Stockholm, Sweden. It wasn't originally on our list of places to go, but it was so perfectly placed in between our destinations that we thought, why not check it out? 

Stockholm was a large, modern city with interesting architecture and countless opportunities for shopping. There, we were charmed with old streets mixed with new buildings and even saw the world's largest Christmas tree! We didn't actually take too many photos in Stockholm and didn't even pull out our Sony, so just beware that these photos were taken on our iPhones. Sometimes, you just have to stop and enjoy the city around you without documenting everything, you know?

We'd love to travel back to see more of what Sweeden has to offer, but for now, here is our travel guide for Stockholm!

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Places to See

Stockholm Public Library

As an avid book nerd, I always try to see the most literary spot in a city. In Stockholm, this happened to be their public library that held a gorgeous rotunda of books. I could have stayed their for hours just staring at the books around me. 

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Gamla Stan

This is the old city in Stockholm and you simply must go there when you're in Stockholm. There you will find cobblestoned streets, old buildings and the palace. We visited Gamla Stan at night and it was beautifully quiet and we managed to avoid all the tourists there. Definitely check this place out for a quintessential old-European experience. 

Places to Eat

Bröd & Salt 

This quaint little bakery in Gamla Stan was our favorite bakery in Stockholm. Their buns, cinnamon and cardamon were absolutely declicious. Although it was only 40 degrees Fahrenehit outside, we sat on their tiny patio outside and had so much fun watching the people around us. I wish I could eat one of their buns every day of my life. 

Drop Coffee

This coffee shop had such a clean and modern design that we totally loved, and not to mention, the coffee was fantastic. We also had our first cardomom bun here, so there are only good memories. 

 

Tips

  • Figure out your transportation options before-hand. Stockholm is a city that is spread out through various islands, making it a fairly spread-out city. We weren't prepared for this and decided that we should just walk everywhere. While it was okay for us, walking twenty miles every day may not be for everyone. Check out the public transit system beforehand to plan. Uber is also available in Stockholm if you would rather use that option instead. 
  • Get a table before you order coffee! Everywhere we went in Stockholm, the coffee shops were packed and we made the mistake every time of ordering drinks and then having no where to sit once we got them. Do some quality lurking and get a table before you order drinks so you're not uncomfortably trying to balance your espresso in your hands. 

 

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Creating Mood in Your Photography

As photographers, the comment we get the most on our work is that it is moody and as a result what we're asked the most is how to create an appropriate mood in your work. As photographers, mood is definitely something that we spend a lot of time working on and perfecting because we think mood is so important when telling a story, no matter what kind of photography you're taking. Here are some main things we focus on in order to create the mood in our photos: 

Building relationships

Building relationships is the most important thing you need to do as a photographer in general, but it becomes increasingly important when you're trying to tell a very specific story. Through building a strong relationship with your clients and subjects, you can not only know what look they want from their photos, but you also can get to know them personally and create photographs that reflect them and their own story. Or if you are working with models or collaborating with other creatives, it's important to sit down before you start shooting so everyone has the same vision before going into the actual shoot. 

Once you know what your client wants or how you're going to collaborate with other creatives, you can start creating the mood that you want to convey.   Possible moods you may want to create could be romantic (which would incorporate soft light and tones), classic (which would incorporate strong light and color), elegant (which would incorporate more clean lines and black and white photos), and our personal favorite, introspective (harsh shadows and highlights of details). 

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Lighting

Lighting and aperture can really affect and play into the mood you are trying to shoot.

When working with lighting during a photoshoot, you should be aware of the light you are capturing in your lens. The aperture you are using can determine how much light is exposed to the photo. The more light, the more exposure will occur in your photos. The smaller the number of aperture, the wider the lens opening, which means you are letting more light into the camera. Depending on the mood you're looking for, the amount of light you're using can make a huge difference. If you're looking for a more ethereal mood, you should use a smaller aperture. If you're looking for a darker look, the number of aperture should be higher to make the lens opening smaller. 

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Editing

When creating a mood for your photoshoot, it is important that you are consistent with your editing. In order to create this consistency, it’s helpful to create your own presets or filters depending on what photo editing software you’re using.

If you are using Adobe Lightroom, you can create your own preset to use throughout your photos to reflect the mood you wish to convey. You can even use the same presets beyond just one photoshoot in order to create a more cohesive set of work and portfolio. 

Creating presets or using filters will help make sure that all of your photos are consistently edited and are working together to tell the story. 

Shameless plug, stay tuned for a change to download a free preset from us in the near future!

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Black & White Photography

Shooting black and white photographs can be extremely powerful when you're looking to create an intimate and timeless feel. Although the color is taken out of the frame, it is still important to maintain a desired and consistent mood with the rest of your shoot.  

While taking black and white photos, it’s important to imagine the photo without the color. Instead of looking at how the colors interact with each other in the photo, you need to look at how the hues and tones work together in the photo.

The lack of color in a photograph can be powerful because it can help the viewer focus more on the actual subjects of the photo, and therefore the emotions can come across more powerfully.

 

Four Days in Iceland

At the end of 2017, we took our honeymoon and finally took a dream trip to Iceland. And we must say, the second we were there we immediately knew we wanted to go back. Although the country seemed to be made up of about 90% tourists, it still held its charm flawlessly. Although Reykjavik provided a feel of a quaint city life, you could travel ten minutes out of the city and feel like you were on a completely separate planet all by yourself. Iceland has been hyped on social media the past few year and if you're worried that it won't meet your expectations, fear not. It will meet all of your expectations and raise over them. 

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Places To See

Gullfoss

Gullfoss Waterfall is one of the most popular natural beauties that attract tourists in Iceland. You can get there by bus or car (we recommend car). The waterfall is located in a canyon in Southeast Iceland. It's size is awe-inspiring and the colors were simply glorious. 

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Geysir 

This is probably the place where we encountered the most tourists. Although it is crowded, it is definitely worth it to see the first geyser ever known. In the Southwestern part of Iceland, it's also surrounded by sulfuric rocks and hot springs. 

Thingvellir National Park 

This national park is a mere half an hour ride out of Reykjavik and is full of the most beautiful sights we have ever seen. The park is full of mountain peaks, frozen tundra, and sprawling lakes. Along the way, and throughout the park, there are small villages and Icelandic horses lining the roads. It's the most beautiful drive we've ever taken. 

The Northern Lights 

Although it's not guaranteed that you'll see the Northern Lights while you're in Iceland, it is highly likely, especially if you're traveling in the winter months. The further you are away from city lights, the higher the chance you have of witnessing vibrant Northern Lights. We used the app My Aurora to see our chances of seeing the Northern Lights each night and where the best locations were. 

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Places To Eat

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

We waited about a half an hour in line to eat at one of the most famous hot dog stands in the world. And it was so worth it--it was seriously the best hot dogs we've ever had in our life. They dressed their hotdogs in ketchup, mustard, remoulade, fried onion, and raw onions. And now we can't eat any hot dogs without fried onions. Truly genius. 

Braud & Co 

This little and eclectically decorated bakery in the heart of Reykjavik was adorable and served fresh bread and pastries. One of these pastries, their cinnamon buns, were some of the best cinnamon buns we've ever had---and we've had a lot. 

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Tips

  • RENT A CAR! When researching our trip, we read so many travel blogs that said renting a car in Iceland was expensive. However, we found this not to be the case whatsoever. We rented through Sixt and ended up paying about $150 total to rent a car for four days. We found renting a car to be so important to us because we were able to do the things we wanted to do on our own timeline. Some of the best moments of our trip happened when we just pulled over on the side of the road to look at something beautiful. If we were on a bus tour, we would not have been able to do that. 
  • No matter what time of year you're traveling to Iceland, definitely bring all of your layers. Although the temperatures are not the most extreme (we live in Wisconsin, we're used to it), the wind is intense. Iceland is one of the windiest places in the world that people actually inhabit, so the windchill was often 20-30 degrees colder than the actual air temperature. Scarves and layers are your best friends here. 
  • Budget for food. Due to the fact that Iceland has to important nearly all of its food, food is quite expensive here. Expect to pay 2-3 more times for a meal than you would back home. You can cook your own meals to save money, but in the end, it will still be expensive. 
  • Be prepared to have a lot or a little sunlight. In the winter months, Iceland gets about 4 hours of sunlight a day and in the summer, Iceland gets about 4 hours of dark in a day. This can be an extreme adjustment, especially for your sleep schedule. Just be prepared to be a little confused about what time it is. 
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January Wrap-Up

January has been an absolutely crazy month for us and all we can say is that 2018 has started off  so strong! 

This month, we had 38 photoshoots including editorial shoots, models, and freelance work. We also started making progress on our long-term Vulnerability Project. This project is focused on photographing individuals at their most vulnerable and showing the power of vulnerability through photos and interviews. If you'd like to be a part of this project, let us know. 

We also were able to meet so many creatives as well as future couples getting married this year as we have started planning to photograph their dream day. 

This month has been insane and sometimes hard to wrap our head around, but here are some of our largest celebrations this month, along with some of our favorite shots: 

  • FINALLY launched our photography site and online portfolio. 
  • We rang in the New Year in Copenhagen, Denmark! WHAT IS LIFE?!?
  • Did an Instagram takeover for a week for What MKE Wore
  • Collaborated with local clothing designer Amu Cherian for a funky editorial shoot. 
  • Joined the social media platform of Ello and became an official "Featured Artist" with over 25K+ views. 
  • Traveled to Chicago multiple times to shoot with blogger, Outer Muse and met up with models and fellow photographers from our awesome community. 
  • Started planning our 2018 weddings with future brides and grooms from around the country. 
  • Converted our bedroom into an official office space complete with all the perfect Ikea furniture one may need. 
  • Froze our butts off because that's just what you have to do when you want to shoot crazy winter scenes with Kara Jean and Ulviye. 
  • Climbed a rock ledge and set up an elaborate lighting set-up to capture some spooky photos of Taty and Bryce. 
  • Worked with so many models and creatives who weren't afraid to try new things. 

A huge thanks to everyone who made this month amazing! Here's to a great start to 2018!

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Outer Muse

Over the past few months, we have been working with Gina Simonelli of Outer Muse to help her create a platform for her brand new fashion blog. After months of photoshoots and outfit planning, Gina has launched her site and is sharing all of her inspirations for finding affordable, fashionable looks. 

Gina has dreamed about starting a fashion blog for years and after a conversation with her friend who owns a small business, she decided to take the leap. 

"I talked to her about the blog I’ve dreamed of doing and she asked me why I haven’t pursued it yet," Gina said. "I told her I was afraid to fail. She said to me 'do you know that voice in your head that is always eating at you and telling you you’re meant to do this? If you don’t try, that voice will never go away.'" 

It was that advice that inspired Gina to finally take the leap to start Outer Muse. Gina hopes to create a space on the internet that shows people that they can love their style without needing to spend a lot of money. 

"There are ways to get creative by taking what you already own and making it special with little to no cost," Gina said. 

In the short term, Gina is looking towards gaining her first 1K followers on Instagram (go follow her here); and has many exciting blog series planned for the future. 

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Kara Jean

As a photographer, it is so much fun to work with models that have a similar vision as you do and who are so good at turning your visions into a reality---and it's even better when they make it better than your vision. 

That was the case when working with Kara. Kara was immediately excited and ready to collaborate. We had so much fun working with her, even though it was deceptively freezing outside. Thank you for being amazing and working hard to create the best photos. 

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Glitter Twins

We loved shooting with glitter makeup so much last month that we wanted to do it again, only this time we wanted to do it with two people. We love photoshoots where two models interact with each other; we feel as if each person adds another layer of storyline to the photo. 

Thank you to Ellery and Zhenya for being incredible!

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