Street photography is a highly popular genre, because anybody with a point and shoot camera (or even a smartphone) can capture the myriad scenes of daily life that so often can translate into striking and emotive images – even in the most ordinary of locations. |
But for those looking to develop their creative skills and start getting a little more ‘serious’ about the craft, exploring the medium of black and white is not only a way of capturing interesting images, it can also help you look at a scene in a completely different way.
Learn from an Expert
For those who want to gain a view into how a professional works, a Steve McCurry photography course (as well as those with other high-profile Masters) affords a one-on-one insight into how to capture his kind of iconic street and documentary style images. This kind of accessible learning comes highly recommended by industry experts.
But even before you get started on your journey, understanding a few pro tips will give you a head start so you can begin shooting compelling black and white scenes from the outset.
(The below tips are assuming you are shooting in black and white intentionally, rather than in post-production afterwards.)
Change your Mindset
One of the most effective things you can do is to engage a mind shift and visualise the scene in monochrome from the very beginning. While of course with the capabilities of digital you can transform any image to monochrome, creating a composition with the intention of a B & W result will force you to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the scene and generally produce a much more striking image. Do this and you’ll have a huge advantage from the get-go.
Look at the Light and Shade of a Scene
Intrinsically linked to the first tip, making a conscious note to observe the light and tones within a scene, rather than the colour, will help your composition in terms of the points of interest and how elements of the image relate to each other. Black and white images have, by their definition, much more of a graphic nature, so it’s important to utilise the light and tones present to their full creative advantage. Start noticing the tones instead of the colours.
This is the most important tip in street photography, whether you’re using colour or black and white. However, it’s even more vital in B & W, because if a background is too cluttered or you include too much detail in the frame it can become even more distracting when you are relying on light and shadow as a tool of composition. Take your time (if possible), study the scene (at different times of the day, again, if possible) and ensure everything within the frame has meaning.
Bonus tip: The use of negative space in B & W is particularly effective but, again, make sure you use it purposefully and it doesn’t detract from the main subject or story of the image.
Learn from Icons Like Steve McCurry: Photography Course Benefits
Doing an online Steve McCurry photography course, or one with any of the renowned Masters of photography that are available, allows you to see tips like the above, and many more, put into real-life situations. These courses allow you to be there (virtually) with these incredible photographers as they provide an insight into their working practice.
Adam Harper is a Photography Consultant at Masters of Photography. If you’re looking for courses from the world’s greatest photographers, they offer a Steve McCurry photography course online as well as other excellent Masterclasses. Suitable for all levels, the courses provide lifetime access to easy to follow classes, allowing participants to learn valuable tips and tricks and take big steps to improve their photography. The online community affords the opportunity to find inspiration from both the Masters and fellow students.
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