Photog Faves: Black and White

Emma Frankart Henterly

For something that looks so simple—it’s only two colors, after all—black and white photography is notoriously difficult to get right. So when Meg and Caleb Sanchez, of Sanchez Studio, offered to give us some insight on the topic, we were thrilled at the opportunity.

“In this digital world, where social feeds are overflowing with color photos of every meal, workout and pet, black and white photography allows us a more simple and honest look at a subject that harkens back to the origins of our craft,” says Caleb.

Black and white photography often is used to visually isolate or draw attention to a subject or to the textures in a scene; without color to distract the eye, it’s easier for a viewer to hone in on these details. And when your Instagram or Facebook or Twitter feed is a riot of color, a black and white image will stand out in a way that a color one simply can’t.

But you can’t just take any old photo and convert it to black and white. Whether you’re Instagramming your avocado toast or shooting a wedding, you have to be mindful of what the final product will look like sans color.

“Whether black and white or color, our starting point is the same,” Caleb explains. “We build on a foundation of creative and meaningful compositions, accompanied by proper exposure and depth of field.”

Depth of field refers to the background blur, or bokeh, that helps a subject stand out from the elements behind it.

“Throughout a shoot we make decisions based on the foreground, background, positioning of subjects, position of light and whether or not it is natural,” Caleb continues. “While making all of these decisions, we often come upon a moment that we know is special. A confluence of beautiful light and natural interactions can make for stunning imagery, but when we want to give a special moment the attention it deserves, we turn to black and white. The high contrast and balance of true blacks and pure whites allow us to focus on the expressions, eyes and emotions. Black and white is honest. It allows us a clear view into the subject. This view, while often times elegant and graceful, can also be lighthearted, rich and vibrant.”