Adding new fine art prints to a home or office gallery, black and white images are a great way to offset the color. The problem with a color image is it must match the interior decorating where black and white goes with almost any decor. Before spending a lot of money on black and white prints, not all black and white images are created equal. I wrote a blog about what to look for in a black and white image so you know how to choose an image. But thinking about the “WHY” is just as important. Therefore, this article will go into the “WHY” adding black and white prints to a fine art home gallery is important.
As a photographer, we all edit in different styles. Unfortunately, styles come and go. Therefore, it’s apparent when a print is created. Right now, a lot of light painting and Orten effect are being used. There is nothing wrong with this as I use the Orten effect and some light painting now and then. When looking at a fine art black and white print, trying to figure out when it was made is almost impossible. No light painting, no enhanced colors, only different shades of black, white, and grey. What if the photograph was from 30 years ago? Everything about the image looks dated, but if converted to black and white, the age of the photo disappears. A black and white fine art print looks just as good 30 years ago as it does today
What makes a good black and white image is the contrast. Areas of light and dark that draw the viewer’s eye in. Of course, there are many images with shades of grey and no real contrast. With color images, it’s all about leading lines, sunsets, sunrises and not a lot of contrast. But the same sunset or sunrise image in black and white has a lot of contrast with the bright whites of the sun and the deep blacks of the shadows. And what about hanging the print on walls in a home or office? Black and white prints can add contrast to a neutral decor or any color decor. But it has to be the right black and white image. Therefore, a “grey” image is not the way to go, but a fine art black and white print will add delightful contrast to any home or office gallery.
What has drawn me to black and white recently is how the simplicity of the image. Color images have a lot going on with big sunsets, mountains, wildflowers, etc. While amazing to look at or witness while taking the image, it’s hard to find a place for the image in a home or office. There is a lot going on in the image. Therefore, black and white prints can be very simple. With some dodging and burning techniques and removing distractions and we can highlight areas of notable contrast. This draws attention to what is important in the image. The viewer knows exactly where to look. I enjoy color photographs and spend some quality time in the mountains for the wildflowers and sunsets. Some of my best images this year are from Mount Rainier during the wildflower season but one of my favorite black and white images this year was from the same place as the wildflowers. Simple black and white images don’t have a lot going on and do not overwhelm the viewer.
Looking at black and white fine art print, focus on the dramatic presence it conveys. Assuming the image is not “grey”. If there are only shades of grey, there is no drama. A true black and white print presents drama. Having dramatic prints hanging on a wall will be a talking piece for anyone at your home or office. Color images are pleasant but don’t really offer the drama. The images have pretty sunsets, wildflowers, mountains, etc. but the drama is missing in many color prints. That’s not to say color prints don’t have drama. Lots of photographers put drama in color prints and they look nice. I focus a lot of editing to drama on black and white images. The “figure” needs to stand out while the “ground” is much darker or lighter to accentuate the “figure”. Therefore, the editing process determines what is dark or light. Not only is the print dramatic, but your walls now have drama. No matter what color the decor, a dramatic black and white print will really stand out. A color image should match the decor so it blends in more than black and white.
GOES WITH ALL HOME DECOR
The best advantage of black and white, fine art prints is the way any home or office decor matches the image. Not sure why black goes with almost every color, but during the auto body days of the past, black cars look good with any accent color. Home decor is the same. Properly edited black and white, dramatic prints are a nice way to accent a home or office. While offices have color, most wall space in a home is painted white and will fit nicely with a black and white, fine art print. Since black and white prints go with nay home or office decor, the only hard part is choosing the right image. Should it be a cityscape, landscape, still life, etc. is what the buyer needs to figure out. At least trying to decide if the colors match is not part of the equation. So how should this be determined? Well, that’s up to the buyer. If the home is modern, then maybe a cityscape or abstract print to match the angles. This is the hardest part with choosing fine art black and white prints will look the best.
Decorating your home or office with timeless, dramatic fine art prints can be a conversation piece for anyone visiting. The more I’m doing photography, the more I’m drawn to black and white prints. That’s not to say if the sky is lighting up with sunset or sunrise colors that I wouldn’t photograph it. I think it’s that I can edit a color image in a few minutes, but a black and white may take several days. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we have a lot of grey skies which work perfect for black and white fine art prints. Just remember to look for images that have a clear subject and ground and are not different shades of gray. You need to know what the focus is in the image. I my previous post, What Makes a Good Black and White Photo, I explain what to look for. Not all black and white fine art prints are created the same. Please feel free to contact me with any questions using my Contact Page.