Gallery: monochrome portraits and street shots
When you photograph a man in colour, you photograph their clothes. When you photograph a man in black and white, you photograph his soul.Ted Grant, Canadian photojournalist
I’m not sure I fully agree with the above quote, but I do think it’s true that when you look at a monochrome portrait you are most drawn to the face rather than the person’s surroundings.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who follows this blog that I enjoy street photography and also taking more formal portrait shots of some of the people I encounter on my travels. Although I take all my photos in colour (to give me options), I do like to experiment with monochrome when I edit. I find it can work particularly well with characterful faces. So when Brian (Equinoxio21) suggested that the portrait of a fisherman in Fort Kochi that I included in my recent The roads I take post would work well in black and white I naturally accepted the challenge. That shot is featured above and I hope you agree that it works.
But of course I couldn’t leave it there! So I pulled together some favourite people shots from recent trips, added some from slightly longer ago travels in India, and started to experiment. Here for Leanne’s Monochrome Madness are some of the more successful results.
Another Indian fisherman, this time on a beach in Kovalam, Kerala
Taken at a music and dance festival in Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
A musician at the Amber Fort, Jaipur
A security guard at a Jain temple in Jaisalmer
At the temple in Manakamana, Nepal
Carrying building materials in Bandipur, Nepal
In Ban Xong Ja minority village, northern Laos
A young Buddhist nun at Futarasan Shrine in Nikko, Japan
Drinking sake in Takayama, Japan
On the streets of Takayama, Japan
Selling incense and frankincense in the Al Haffa souk, Salalah, Oman
In Muttrah fish market, Muscat, Oman
In the market in Salalah, Oman
Our guide Hussein in Salalah’s Grand Mosque, Oman
And to finish, one from Colombia, taken in Guatapé
Loving those men in turbans! Amazing shots as always!
Thanks so much Teresa 😊 I think the folds of the turbans work well in B&W even though you lose the often vibrant colours.
Really love your work! Great photos!
Thank you, I do appreciate that feedback 😊
Excellent portraits, as always.
Thank you so much Ruth 😊
Excellent. Eventually, any good photograph will work well both in colours and B&W.
Thank you 😊 Although I’m not sure I 100% agree with that. Some photos admittedly work well in either medium, but many are significantly better in either one or the other, not both.
I might have been a bit optimistic there. Surface, shadows, material, people or not every detail counts… I don’t systematically check B&W on all my photos. Street art for instance would be a waste of time. paintings. Now sculpture…
Absolutely stunning images! There is a level of intimacy in all these shots that capture so much: thoughtfulness, joy, melancholy, tiredness, worry, pride and so much more.
Aw, thank you so much Leighton, I really appreciate that feedback 😊 Yes, intimacy is something I strive for in this sort of shot, so I’m glad you found it here.
Amazing monochromes … you’re so good in taking portrait shots, Love them all!
Thank you so much Teresa 😊
You know I love this, and I am glad you took one post to share so many photos of people’s personalities. I kind of agree with the quote. You have such a gift for capturing light in the eyes, hardship in the faces, and wisdom in their foreheads. I love this so much, Sarah.
That’s such lovely feedback Donna, thank you – I really appreciate the compliment 😊 And in return, you have a real gift for words – ‘light in the eyes, hardship in the faces, and wisdom in their foreheads’ – perfect!
Superb portraits, Sarah. They don’t need colour to capture attention.
Thanks so much Jo, I’m glad you like them 😊
After starting by saying you’re not sure you agree with the quote, you’ve gone a fair way to proving it’s accurate…there’s soul in these photos!
Thank you 😊 Character I hope, but I’m not sure about soul. But what I tend to disagree with is the fact you can’t show this in a colour image. I think with careful composition (and possibly editing) you can certainly do so.
Mike and Kellye Hefner
All exceptional shots, Sarah, but I will always love your fisherman in Fort Kochi the best.
Thank you Kellye, I have a soft spot for him too!
I always think you capture the most beautiful moments of people. Not staged or forced, just natural and thoughtful and intimate. Really lovely 🙂
That’s really lovely feedback, thank you 😊
An absolutely terrific set of images Sarah.
Thanks so much Malcolm 😊
Image Earth Travel
Great black and white photos – my preferred medium.
Do you take the photos in B&W (set camera to monochrome) or convert during post-production?
Thank you for the nice comment 🙂 As I said above, ‘Although I take all my photos in colour (to give me options), I do like to experiment with monochrome when I edit.’ I used to sometimes set the camera to B&W but I didn’t always like the results and it’s not possible to later decide colour would have been better. Whereas if I photograph in colour I can convert later, for which I almost always use Silver Efex Pro these days as it enables me to experiment with different ‘looks’ etc.
Image Earth Travel
If you take a RAW+JPG then you have both. I always set my camera to monochrome as I love this medium, but I don’t like PP so keep both files in case something happens down the track with the JPG. I’ve had JPGs corrupt before – distressing.
Ah yes, good suggestion – something to consider, thank you 🙂
And that’s something you’re very good at Sarah … taking photos of people on the street! Your photos work perfectly in monochrome – it certainly brings out their characterful faces more.
Aw, thank you so much 😊 I really appreciate the compliment!
There you are! You’re certainly demonstrating how it’s done!
Aw, thank you Margaret 😊 Now it’s your turn!
No pressure …
People are so richly varied, and your photographs bring out this variety so well Sarah.
Thanks so much Denzil, I’m glad you think so 😀
Amazing monochrome fhoto 😊
Thank you Aloya 🙂
You’re welcome 😊
I think their expressions certainly stand out more on black and white, no distraction from the colourful clothes.
Thank you Alison – that’s exactly what I hoped to achieve with these edits!
Just back in the UK Sarah, my dad has now gone and just looking after my mum for a while till we can settle her. So much to sort out. Enormous amount of paper to get through, 20 years of bank statements and such!
Just randomly looking at some posts here and there 🙂
Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that. And I do feel for you with that paperwork as we went through exactly the same thing. Thinking of you 🤗
Thanks Sarah 😊
I loved them all Sarah!
Thank you Anne 😊