Monochromes are often something I'm asked about for each wedding and for me it is always an exciting opportunity to interpret a photograph in an approach I would consider too risky for colour. In colour, I aim for perfect skin tones, delicate pastels, and smooth contrast. Providing copies in monochrome allows me to be a little more adventurous and push for something more stylistic than my usual photo journalistic form.
It would be easier and far less time consuming for a photographer to simply hit the 'Black and White' button in their software and have many colour photos converted over to a monochrome. For me, that's a compromise, and I will rework my images from the ground up for excellent monochromes treated with the same respect as my colour files. My aim is for a set of monochromes that will amaze the couple for an impactful second visit to the wedding collection.
I favour a smooth mid-tone contrast plunging into a rich shadows. I like to call this technique 'submersion', immersing the viewer in an ambient darkness that allows the eye to be drawn to only shapes and shimmers of silver in the frame.
What's important to understand in the process of crafting monochromes is that colours remain very much active. This can be very much confusing to get your head around first, but understanding how the channels affect the tones of grey is key to the final image.
Traditionally, photographers would filter out certain colour channels using lens filters. This isn't compatible with a modern workflow however, but fortunately, the Fujifilm X-Series cameras make the process effortless by providing colour filters in-camera. The stunning ACROS film simulation is modelled on the classic film stock and can filter out red, green or yellow colour channels in-camera or in Adobe Lightroom.
Personally, I'm a big fan of ACROS + Green Filter, but any variation of the simulation is a dream to shoot with and in my opinion is the finest interpretation of monochrome in digital photography. Shimmeriing highlights, details mid-tones and deep contrasty lows are everything I like to see in a monochrome and ACROS has it in spades.
For decades, photographers have known that monochrome photographs are a little more resilient to low-light shooting. As the sun sets, venues employ a mix of lighting that sometimes just doesn't look great in colour, and our cameras get pushed to the limits to capture what little light we have. Monochromes simply look fantastic in even the most extravagant disco lighting, and image quality holds up wonderfully even on close inspection. The grain is present, but if anything complimentary to the character of the image.
Rainy day? No problem. Your sprint to the ceremony will be preserved as a timeless monochrome.
For some reason, many photographers stray away from back-lit images; Personally, I can't get enough of them. And with ACROS, the smooth transition of light to shadow is wonderful.
If you've made it this for, thanks for reading! I hope you've enjoyed the images I've shared. I'd love to hear other people's thoughts and philosophies on monochromes, particularly in wedding photography. Do drop a comment below!