Black & White Photos

LeNae's Scrapbooking 101: Black & White Photos are the Easiest!

Black and white photos are classic. There's a certain timelessness to them—think of the photographs from the 1940's and you'll see what I mean!

Black and white photos also make scrapbooking easier. It's true! You don't have to worry about your subjects' clothing clashing in group shots or competing with the surroundings. It puts the focus on the subject of the photo rather than the colors in the background. It also makes it much easier to choose scrapbook papers.

Focus on the Faces—Not the Colors

Your Thanksgiving Day guests probably didn't coordinate their clothing before they came over, did they? So your brother is in blue plaid, your sister is in yellow stripes and your child is wearing pink and purple. Shoot the three of them in color and you'll have a very colorful, busy photo. Shoot them in black and white and you'll instantly have more focus on your subjects' faces instead of the confusion of color and pattern.

scrapbook projectIt's a Classic

What kinds of photos look good in black and white? I shoot lots of black and whites of children because kids often wear patterned clothing with lots of colors. Black and whites are also great for travel and vacation photos, especially when photographing buildings or landmarks. While you won't get the vivid color, you will see stronger, cleaner lines—a really nice effect on churches, old buildings, the Eiffel Tower. It can also give a more romantic effect.

Weddings and other formal occasions are natural for black and white—and black and white gives a classic feel to casual shots too. When my sister-in-law got engaged, I offered to take photos of her and her husband-to-be. I had them wear jeans and white t-shirts and took photos outside. At first she was a bit skeptical about having them done in black and white rather than color, but now says she loves the look.

Remember what I said about timelessness? In ten years the clothing we're wearing today is going to look distractingly dated (remember the 80's?). Black and white photos help minimize that.

scrapbook projectIt's Easier to Choose Paper

In this layout, my daughter Lauren is actually wearing a bright pink plaid shirt and blue jeans. Her playhouse is bright, bright red and blue. And the background is our backyard, with green grass and lots of colored flowers. Wow, what paper am I going to put these photos on?

By using black and white film, I don't have to search all over for a paper that will match Lauren's clothing without clashing with the playhouse or the background colors. It allows me to choose papers that reflect the season or theme of the page rather than trying to coordinate colors. This is how I can scrapbook Lauren's photo on purple butterflies (perfect for a little girl) without the paper and the photos competing.

Best bets for color: I frequently scrapbook with neutral, monochromatic colors, especially tan, ivory and black, all perfect for black and white photos. Black and whites look great on pastels, as well as navy or red. And don't forget black-and-white patterned papers!

LeNae's Tips for Shooting in Black and White

  1. If you're posing subjects or taking a more formal shot, keep the clothing light colored and the background dark—or vice versa. Just don't shoot someone in a white t-shirt standing against a white wall.
  2. When you take your black and white film in to be developed, you can also request to have one set printed in sepia. This gives a brown cast to your photos, making them look antique.
  3. I'm lucky enough to have two cameras—one of which I keep loaded with black and white film. Every few weeks I'll take it out and snap a few photos. That way I always have choices when it comes time to scrapbook.

No matter whether you're brand-new to scrapbooking, or just like to keep things simple, black and white photos offer a lot of great options for easy, beautiful layouts!

LeNae Gerig is the author of LeNae's Scrapbooking Basics from Hot Off The Press.

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