A while back Dan Steinhardt from Epson and Josh Haftel from Nik Software proposed a class for Kelby Training on Black and White printing. Of course we jumped at it because this is always a hot topic. Plus, you really can’t get two people more knowledgable and relevant in this area, as Epson is the go-to printer, and Nik Silver Efex Pro is the go-to black and white software.

Why I Declined To Be Part of the Class (At First)
Anyway, as planning for the class came closer, Dan asked if we could do a roundtable discussion on what inspires us about B&W photography and asked if I would participate. After giving it some thought, I declined because I’ve never been into B&W photography. I didn’t shoot black and white when I was young, and I don’t have this nostalgic feeling or appreciation toward black and white photography (until now, but more on that in a minute).

So, to be fair, I asked Dan if I could simply be there to facilitate the discussion rather than actively participate in my feelings on the topic. I thought maybe (with my limited feelings toward B&W) that I could actually help the discussion a bit because I’d be approaching them from a fresh point of view. They agreed and that’s what we did.

The Lightbulb Moment
During the first lesson these guys roped me in immediately. Around the 2:30 point in the first lesson Dano (that’s what we call Dan) started talking about how black and white belongs to photographers. Color had been available to painters for a long time, but black and white was something that photographers could call their own. Then Josho (that’s not what we call Josh ;) by the way) jumped in with his thoughts and I was hooked from that moment. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “That black and white allows us to focus on things that we see all the time, but break it down into shape, form, texture, etc…”. It’s funny because I’m sure everyone reads into things differently – but to me, what Josh was saying started making perfect sense. As photographers, we know people are drawn to certain things in a photo (bright areas vs. dark, sharp areas vs. blurry). It was at this point I realized that in it’s simplest form, black and white photos can really help people focus in on the subject in a photo and let us (as the photographer) show off that subject in a very basic way. I think it’s why I’ve always like black and white wedding photography. The brides dress is white right? That’s what you look at and that’s what you should look at so it’s a perfect match. There’s obviously many more great examples and much more to this topic, but that was really a breakthrough moment for me and has gotten me interested in shooting more black and white photos.

Watch This Class
I have to say, if there’s any one course that has helped me grow artistically (and trust me, I’m not a very “artsy” kinda person so I don’t often say this – in fact I’ve never said this), it was this one. I encourage you if you’re a Kelby Training subscriber to log in and check out this course. If you’re not a subscriber, then you should be. There’s over 300 courses on there which takes your subscription price down to less than $1 dollar per class. Enjoy!