Black & white compositions can cut through clutter

The biggest advantage of B & W photos is that they absorb the clutter that is created due to an overabundance of color. Yes, color can be, at times, a source of great deal of clutter. It tends to take the attention away from the subject and confuse the audience. Black and white compositions don’t suffer from similar issues.

To further accentuate the advantage it is necessary that you get closer to the action whenever possible and make tighter compositions.

Overrides skin blemishes and imperfections which make-up cannot

Even with the best of make-up work color photos can sometimes betray skin blemishes or redness. With black and white compositions you are never bothered with such unflattering compositions. Black and white compositions are essentially about different tones of grey. It is difficult to spot patches of red skin or skin imperfections.

B & W photos capture emotions best

There is something about B & W photos and expression of emotions; they tend to go well together. Be it subtle or otherwise, such as a tear rolling down the cheek of the father of the bride, a quick glance at the mirror by the bride, the kiss; these are priceless moments and are captured better in B & W.

Beg, borrow or steal a second body and lens

Some wedding photographers keep a separate body set to B & W and mounted with a specific lens to be able to shoot in black and white whenever they want to. It saves them precious time and allow them to capture those candid moments in an instant. If you don’t have an extra body and lens set, consider renting one.

Look for the decisive moment

Henri Cartier Bresson, arguably the best street photographer ever and a great proponent of journalistic photography has a lot to teach us in terms of shooting black & white.

Though not exactly a wedding photographer his approach is suited to this genre. He believed in and practiced something all his life that he referred to as ‘the decisive moment’. His philosophy of looking for the decisive moment in everything that transpires around us can effectively be used in wedding photography; especially candid journalistic style B & W wedding photography.

Bonus tip - Shoot at a lower ISO

One of the worst things that you can do as a wedding photographer who shoots in B & W is to shoot at a higher ISO. Though I am a firm believer in “there are more things in heaven and earth” and you may have your own specific reasons to shoot at the highest ISO your camera may permit, but for the sake of avoiding noise, I would suggest that you shoot at a lower ISO.

Yes, most modern DSLR come with incredible noise handling at higher ISO and yes with post production you can control a lot of it, but there is a limit to what your software and camera can do. Noise is actually accentuated in black and white photos, more than it does in color.