Mastering Black and White Photography

It’s not as simple as shooting in color and converting in post

Josh Rose
ARTS o’ MAGAZINE
Published in
12 min readJan 31, 2018

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“Think Ahead.” By Josh S. Rose. Utah, 2018.

The Monochrome Mindset

Quintessential black and white photography (which, for purposes of this article, I’ll use as the common, colloquial expression for monochrome photography) is not a process of simply shooting in color and then converting to grayscale. And in my opinion it also differs (or at least is larger in scope) than the use of a monochrome camera or black and white film.

You don’t shoot in black and white, you shoot for black and white. It’s a mindset.

In this article, I’m going to outline what I think are the important factors in approaching monochrome photography in the way the masters did. But it’s only my own views on it. My approach looks backward as much as forward— which is to say, I believe that the art of shooting for black and white was perfected decades ago and anyone who wants to take classic black and white photos does best to approach it with deference to the masters who had to work in black and white.

The lack of options for color created a heightened look at everything else. Form, composition, tone, contrast, light, shadow and, of course, moment.

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Josh Rose
ARTS o’ MAGAZINE

Filmmaker, photographer, artist and writer. Writing about creator life and observations on culture. Tips very very much appreciated: https://ko-fi.com/joshsrose