Inspired: Black and White Photography

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” ~ Elliott Erwitt

Torcello in the Venetian Lagoon, Venice, Italy, 1953 ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Every day inspiration can be sparked by so many things: a Warholian piece of art; a quote by Paulo Coelho; the dramatic lines of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Today, I was inspired by monochromatic images. I love when a photograph evokes a feeling, and black+whites have a knack of doing that.

Recently I have been paying attention to other elements too; composition, depth of field, lines, expressions, and angles. Reading images in this way encourages me to notice details that I may have otherwise overlooked.

I like this new change. It’s a reminder to look at the world with new eyes. Enjoy the inspiration!

A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.  ~ Ansel Adams

Flooded Piazza San Marco with St Marks Church Venice, 1952 ~ Dimitri Kessel

Picasso Behind a Window, 1952 ~ Robert Doisneau

New York, 1955 ~ Elliott Erwitt

Antonio Gaudi's Churchy Of The Holy Family Barcelona, Spain, 1951 ~ N R Farbman

Check out how much the Sagrada Familia has progressed since then, click here (then scroll to bottom of that post)

People buying out of town newspapers in Times Square during newspaper strike, NY, 1953 ~ Ralph Morse

View of Ministry of Justice and Government Building from Senate Building, Brasília, Brazil, 1977 ~ Julius Shulman

Wedding in London, 1950's ~ Photographer Unknown

Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the photo as a judgment that the photograph is good. ~ Garry Winogrand

Russian Metro, Moscow, 1941 ~ Margaret Bourke-White

Rome Railroad Station,1951 ~ Jack Birns

Rome Railroad Station,1951 ~ Jack Birns

Moscow Street Scene ~ Carl Mydans

Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph. ~ Andre Kertesz

Kennedy at the L.A.1960 Democratic National Convention ~ Garry Winogrand

Delegates looking at Taj Mahal, 1961 ~ James Burke

Los Angeles Airport, 1978-83 ~ Garry Winogrand

Sharpness is a bourgeois concept. ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

"Swan Lake", Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Cyclades Island of Siphnos, Greece ~ 1961

Hyères, France, 1932 ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work. ~ William Klein

French couple at cafe Tango du Chat in the Latin Quarter, Paris, 1949 ~ Gjon Mili

Academy Awards, 1962 ~ Allan Grant

Newspaper boy selling newspapers amidst the traffic on Olive Street in downtown area nr. 6th Street, LA,1949 ~ Loomis Dean

Palm Springs ~ Julius Shulman

A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.  ~ Eudora Welty

Hermes Store, Paris, 1952 ~ N R Farbman

New York ~ Vivian Maier

Flooded Piazza San Marco with St Marks Church, Venice, 1952 ~ Dimitri Kessel

71 thoughts on “Inspired: Black and White Photography

  1. I LOVE these photos Marina! I absolutely revel in the drama created by black and white effects – those clouds! I love these! What a great collection – well done!

  2. I really like the quotes that accompany these great photographs. Like them all, though the boy in NY looking out from the back of train is just perfect.

    • Ms Sydney Life, can you imagine how hard it was for me to pick for this collection? 😉 My aim was tops, 20 images, but I went over my own limit. I tried to bookmark the ends however. Glad you enjoyed! Thanks!

  3. This is a really nice collection Marina. It really demonstrates what an impact black and white photography can have. It’s been said but, there really are some very powerful images here. Thank you for posting. 🙂

    • My pleasure Adrian, glad you enjoyed! Impactful and powerful – you’re absolutely right. Add to that a sense of mystery and a strange sense of nostalgia for another time, and b/w wins. 🙂 Thank you!

    • Glad to have included one of your faves! I think I will experiment with b/w when I get more comfortable with technique. However, there’s always room for experimentation as that equals practice. I just might! Thanks!

    • Thank you Kasia, for that link! WOW! There are some stellar shots in there. The Brooklyn Bridge one, and the bridge in Astoria – it reminded me of the Harbour Bridge in Australia. So amazing how photos, especially b/w, can intrigue us with their mystery. Who knew a lack of colour could do that?!

  4. Great selection of B&W 🙂 I love black&white photography it really makes you look into a photo rather than just look at it 🙂 I love the wedding picture in London and the girls dress and the way its length shows off her pretty shoes 🙂

    • Thanks Helen! The magic lies in evoking emotion doesn’t it? What is even more intriguing is that what we get from a photo might be completely different to what the photographer felt. Such is the mystique of the photography world!

  5. That airport picture! It’s like, “Hello, my childhood!” Wow. Really flashed back there.

    **Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the photo as a judgment that the photograph is good. ~ Garry Winogrand**

    Lord knows that’s happened to me. Sometimes I’ve gone back years later and realized that a photo I’d put aside as not being ‘right’ — either because of the emotions I’d felt while taking it, or the emotions I’d felt while taking another that I originally deemed ‘better’ — was actually the best of the bunch. It’s wild how our emotions skew interpretation of objective input to our senses.

    Loved the pics you chose. Especially loved the NY train tracks out the window pic. 🙂

    • That’s exactly what i love about b/w – their ability to evoke emotion. I am glad you could associate with some of your memories. I also look over some old photos and think, “Why didn’t I ever rate that picture? It’s pretty good.” Mental note: look over archives from time to time. I am glad you enjoyed the selection. Thanks!

  6. What a wonderful online exhibit of the work of masters. Thanks – this is inspiring! How did Henri C-B do it?? He captures the essence of life.

    • I know, Karen – double drool. So much food for though when you realise the technique that goes along with these shots. Though I like what H. Cartier-Bresson says about ‘sharpness’. Glad to have provided some inspiration 🙂

    • I like that way of thinking but then I wonder why history has a way of bringing out the ‘best’? Henri Cartier-Bresson had a great way of working with light didn’t he! Thanks Barbara!

    • I agree with you Fergiemoto, and I think it is a challenge to process in black and white as there’s a fine balance in filling between those grey areas. I wonder what it would be like shooting in black and white for a month… would I miss colour? Something to ponder over and maybe experiment with. Hmmm, I have something to think about. Thanks for the Friday inspiration with your comment 🙂

  7. It’s fun to read this post knowing you are on a quest. And you have indeed collected a handful of great photographs. Many of them are classics today – but still as strong images as they were back when they were shot. The quotes following this post are all full of wisdom. Thanks for putting it all together.

    • Thanks Otto, I am glad you enjoyed it. It is inspiring to look at compositions etc in these photographs – I always wonder what it was that made the photographer press the shutter.

  8. Terrific selection of pictures and epithets. Cartier Bresson is so extraordinary, but the Vivian Maier picture truly grabbed me. The picture entitled Wedding in London look SO unlike London. Apart from the car, the cobbled street looks wrong, as do the traffic lights in background….but the car number plate is right! Extraordinary picture. That Julius Shulman was no slouch either:)

  9. I love the collection of vintage B & W shots. It reminds of why photography has been my passion for so many years. Thanks for sharing it.

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