Monochrome photography was where it all started back in the early to mid nineteenth century with Fox Talbot, Niépce, Daguerre and on up to Eastman founder of Kodak and his the Box Brownie and beyond. All using monochrome(single colour) - that could be black and white tones or sepia tones with red/brown hues or cyanotypes - with a blue hue. It caught the imagination of generations of people right across the world. The Box Brownie camera by Kodak was cheap and relatively easy to use and popularised photography to a huge degree. Black and white photography became a hugely popular medium right up to the 1970s when colour film began to take over. And still today the black and white image is still popular despite smartphones and digital imagery. There is something about going beyond colour in a portrait, for example, that allows us to examine a face more closely. We instantly see tones and textures. We can interpret character with seemingly more ease. Black and white photographs still carry great prestige. I would never argue that black & white photography is better than colour photography - it is simple different. (In fact you can see the same image on the left hand side in colour further back on my blog if you want to compare.) This is my way of introducing some black and white portraits I did recently. They were originally shot in colour and later the colour was removed to reveal these two black and white portraits.
The photographs are the start of a series of portraits of sailors. Sailors are an interesting group for me. They wrestle with the elements constantly. Handling themselves and their boats in conditions ranging from flat calm to storm force winds. A cool head is always needed. Then you get breakages or equipment failure which need to be dealt with even if the replacement parts are not available - some sort of jury rig will have to suffice until you get safely to port. Self reliance and resilience are the traits of the best sailors. And a zen type calmness to cope with the many different events that occur on a sailing trip.
I was encouraged to convert to black and white when I saw LensCulture opening a competition for black and white photography. So here they are. Do take a moment to see the work on the LensCulture web site. I recommend it, it is a great site. And do share if you get a chance.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of photography - black & white and colour - do feel free to contact me
Eugene Langan Photography, Studio Eight, 32 North Brunswick St., Dublin 7. D07 TWX3
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - tel: 353(0)872597907 - web: www.eugenelangan.com