Back in the film days, there were many ways that you could capture images. You could shoot color slide film that had lots of saturation or you could use black and white film that would let you create an entirely different version of the same photograph. To your eyes the original scene might look the same but your interpretation would vary based on the kind of film you decided to load into the camera.
Nowadays, most cameras offer monochrome modes and some even offer an entire palette of color toning that you can apply and you can always make adjustments after the fact using Adobe Photoshop or your favorite digital imaging software Here are a three reasons why monochrome may be a good idea for some glamour shooters:
Aesthetics: Sometimes too much color confuses the viewer and takes the focus away from the real subject of the photograph. Shooting directly in black and white impacts how you see while making the images and focuses that vision and lets you show your model what you’re trying to do. You don’t have to explain that you will convert the shot into monochrome; it’s already there in black and white!
Workflow: There are many ways to use software and Photoshop-compatible plug-ins to produce great looking black and white images from color files and I even wrote a book about it called Digital Monochrome Special Effects but if you want to make prints on-site using a PictBridge-based printer or drop your memory cards off at a local Target of Wal-Mart, capturing the file directly in black and white saves time.
Feedback: Perhaps the best reason to shoot in monochrome is the feedback that you and the model get by looking at a black and white image on the LCD screen. That’;s why one of my favorite tricks is to shoot RAW+JPEG, with Monochrome mode selected. This produces two files: A color RAW file and a black and white JPEG that’s used for feedback during the shoot. I find it’s much easier to retouch the RAW color file than a black and white JPEG but everybody’s workflow is different so it’s best to do what works for you.
That’s not to say that the best way to capture monochrome glamour images is in camera, far from it. It’s just another tool that I use for creating monochrome images and you need to select the one that works best for any given glamour shoot, so ultimately it’s your call. Especially now that the Mack Daddy hands-down best monochrome conversion software—Silver Efex Pro—is now free.
Copies of my now lout-of-print book, Creative Digital Monochrome Effects, are available from Amazon at bargain prices and if you want a used copy they are being sold at giveaway prices. Get’em while you can…