The Reasons Why We Love Monochrome Photography

Monochrome image of a boat on the sea next to the shining moon

Would you like to add new and different emotions to your monochrome photography?

When I was a 12 year old teenager and I had just started shooting, I thought there was no emotion in monochromatic images.  But as time went on and I became more and more familiar with it, I realized my mistake.

In fact, experiencing monochrome color photography provides a new way to convey emotions to your audience with your photos. Then, it will increases your ability in photography!

I want to tell you, what is monochrome photography?  What are its types?  What is the effect of color and tones in each of its types?

If you want to know more, join me!

What’s Monochromatic photography?

Any photo that contains one hue or different tones of that hue is a monochromatic color photography.

In other words, monochromatic color photography means using only one color in your image.  And by using that color, you have to convey emotions and atmosphere.

There are two ways you can do this. First, you can shoot a scene that includes a color. Or you can achieve an effect monochromatic color by using the editing software after photographing the desired scene.

Types of monochrome photography

Probably the first scene you visualize after hearing monochromatic photography is black and white. Isn’t that so?

Black and white photography is the most well-known type of monochromatic photography, but it’s not the only one.

monochrome hand lamp

Another type is sepia, which includes red or brown color.

sepia hourglass in the sunset  in monochrome color photography

Moreover, other types include the use of any color in the whole image.

green plants in monochrome color photography

Black and white photography

You must be wondering why black and white photography is part of monochrome photography?

However, it seems that in this type of photography, due to the existence of two colors, black and white, we don’t consider it part of monochrome photography.  But in fact, these black and white colors are in the color spectrum of gray. And gray is the only color that represents black and white photography, so it is monochrome.

This type of photography has many fans. Because it has more power to convey emotions.

In black and white photography, instead of using different colors, you should use tones (The degree of darkness and lightness of a color), shadows (The amount of combination of each color with black) and tints (The amount of combination of each color with white) of one color.

a girl in the foggy forest with fear emotions in monochrome color photography

Here are 4 tips to help you get a good black and white photo:

1.Contrast

This photography depends on high contrast (Contrast between light and dark).

There are two ways to create this contrast:

I) the light

High contrast light is the best light for this photography. Like light on sunny days. Because light can enhance dark tones and create light tones.  

Therefore, by placing a dark colored subject in front of the light, the necessary contrast is created. So, if the light is not good, black and white photos become dark and crowded.

monochrome of a black skin girl

II) the tones

Even if the light is appropriate, you should be careful in choosing light and dark tones. it means, pay attention to the darkness of the color of your subject and even the lightness of its background, or vice versa.

So look for different tones. Do not pay attention to colors that don’t distract you, but think about their relative tones.

monochrome of a girl in the forest

2.Simplicity

In black and white photography, creating a simple framing is essential. Because this way, it is easier for the viewer to recognize the subject.

When shooting, you need to be careful and find a way to simplify your image. So, you can remove a disturbing object in the background or change your viewing angle. Remember, the simpler the photo, the better.

monochrome photo of a happy dog

3.Emotions

Black and white photography is more effective in expressing and conveying emotions as a monochrome color photography. Due to the lack of various colors, you add emotion to the image.

So when taking this type of image, you should pay attention to the emotions that you are going to convey to the audience.

monochrome of a boat on the sea

4.Editing Software

Part of this photography process must be done in editing software. Where color images with relative tones turn into black and white images.

To do this, it’s best to first reduce the image saturation until it’s almost gray, and then increase the contrast until the image is glowing. Of course, you can also reduce the shadows.

What is the difference between black and white photography and monochrome?

In fact, monochrome photography is photography in which different colors or shades and tones of one color are used. But in black and white photography there is practically no color. There are only shades of black and white.

So we can say that a black and white photo can be monochrome, but not all monochrome photos are black and white.

a picture of New York buildings to compare monochrome and black and white photography

Monochrome photography tips

Earlier, we reviewed the important points in black and white photography. Now I want to tell you some tips that will help you in monochrome photography.
Let’s find out more:

Tip 1: Study the environment!

You must be careful to study the environment you have chosen for photography. Find out what time of day or night photography in that environment meets your needs.

monochrome image of orange rocks with orange sunset air

Tip 2: Take photos in Raw format!

This is a general tip for photography: the images you want to shoot should be in Raw format. So when you try to edit that image, its quality is maintained. Because the Raw format retains more detail than the JPEG format.

an image of lush nature to compare Raw and JPEG formats

Tip 3: Catch the right scene!

In fact, you have to learn the composition well. This way, even if you are in an environment where there are different colors, you can find and hunt a scene that consists of only monochrome colors with a suitable composition.

blue monochrome image of the sky and the Sydney sea

Tip 4: Consider a color!

In monochrome photography, you have to choose a color. Then look for the darkest to lightest shade of the same color. A scene that includes a variety of colors and shades is a good scene for monochrome photography.

green monochrome from the leaves of a tree

Tip 5: Focus on texture and pattern!

It is true that colors can perfectly define a subject, but in monochrome photography, the presence of textures and patterns can also represent the subject as much as the colors.

brown monochrome of wall texture and its bricks

Monochromatic color photography

In this type of photography, you don’t have to deal with different colors and also don’t need to pay attention to their composition and relationship with each other.

You are faced with only one color. So this photography is not difficult. You just need to find a monochrome scene, pay attention to the amount of different tones and shades that have color and learn how to convey your feelings through it.

You can find monochromatic color scenes anywhere, even in the man-made world. After that, by changing the light, texture and angle of view, you enter the feeling you want to show to the audience in your camera frame and capture it.

blue rocky beach in monochrome color photography

These photographs are more like abstract images due to the presence of one color and different shades of that color. And is used for artistic and aesthetic purposes.

red neon wall in monochrome color photography

If there is a small amount of other color in your image, it doesn’t cause a problem. Don’t worry!

a notebook on the white bed in monochrome color photography

   In monochromatic photography, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Choosing a strong subject.
  • Show tonal range of one color (i.e. show more than one tone of color).
  • Use light and shadow to create contrast.
  • apply textures, lines, and angles to convey emotions.
  • Use repetitive shapes and patterns to guide the viewer toward the subject.
white door

Let’s look at some pictures of monochromatic colors:

Green monochrome photography:

This color is the color of growth and rebirth.  You can see it in nature in addition to human creations.

monochrome color photography of a green plants

Blue monochrome photography:

This color is the color of calm and confidence.  The sky and the sea are the first place you can find it.

monochrome color photography of blue mountain next to the lake

Red monochrome photography:

This color is the color of love and power and sometimes anger.  As you can find red in flowers, fruits, fire, sunset and more.

monochrome color photography of red strawberries

Yellow monochrome photography:

This color is the color of happiness and optimism. You can find it in flowers, fruits and autumn leaves.

monochrome color photography of yellow autumn leaves

Purple monochrome photography:

This color is the color of courage and originality.  You can find it in flowers, in the sky.

monochrome color photography of purple thunder in the sky

Pink monochrome photography:

This color is the color of kindness and hope.You can find it in flowers, and even in the fashion industry.

Each color has different emotions. For example, red is both a sign of love and anger. Which color you choose for monochrome photography depends on the feeling you want to convey.

In general, a monochrome color in a photo can reinforce and convey more intense emotions.  Because sometimes the presence of several colors shows different emotions, and in this case, the message does not reach the audience properly.

monochrome color photography of pink roses

Ways to enhance emotion in photography

Different emotions can be conveyed to others through photography. So that when a person sees a picture, he/she receives those feelings as if he/she was the target of this picture.

There are ways to increase these emotions in the pictures. Let’s look at those ways:

First way: highlight your subject

You can put more emphasis on the subject by exposing the subject to bright light or photographing the subject in low light. And also in this way, it depicts the sadness, loneliness and introversion of the subject more.

monochrome image of a girl standing in front of the light and the light has taken part of her face

Second way: take nostalgic photos

Man is inherently a creature who lives by his memories. So you can guess how many different emotions you can convey to others when shooting nostalgia. In fact, by capturing an image, you can evoke deep feelings of a particular moment in the minds of others.

picture of the corridor of an old house with an old sign on its wall

Third way: use light

Light is one of the factors that can be used properly to create a variety of emotions in your image. Bringing the subject closer to the light source creates shadows in the background and, conversely, placing the subject in front of the light source conveys a sense of sadness.

a woman in the setting sun holding a string of light

Fourth way: add the movement element

Just increase the shutter speed of the camera, then you can shoot the movements that are done around the subject or by the subject himself. This gives others a more realistic and vivid sense of the image. Like recording a little girl shaking her hair in the wind!

black and white image of a girl with her hair waving in the air

Conclusion

Monochrome color photography experience is interesting and attractive, specially when your intent is to add emotions. For those of you who are interested in photography.

This photography increases your creativity, because as you go out and look for a monochrome scene, after a while, your ability to see details and textures more accurately increases.

Have you associated with this type of photography? 

If your answer is yes, start now! 

Look around you. You will definitely find one or two monochrome scenes.  

So capture it!

Share your experience with me in the comments.

Posted by
Nazanin

It's Nazanin. For me who loves the rainbow after the rain. What could be more beautiful than writing about colors ?! Well, I'm here now, in Dopely, to share my writings about colors with you and take you with me to the world of colors!

5 Comments

  1. I have always struggled with choosing colors for my study environment at home. It was very inspiring and helpful. I finally chose gray.

    1. well, dear Ida I’m glad I could help.

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