In 2017, I got tagged into one of those photo challenges that crop up on Facebook every now and then. This was a challenge to post a black and white photo every day for seven days, which was to have no people in it and no explanation. I enjoyed that a lot and decided to keep that project going for the rest of the year. I didn’t make a new photo every day, but I ended up with 45 photos by the end of the year. I posted them on instagram and also on my personal blog.
You can see my favourites on that blog, Stepping on the Cracks.
I wanted to continue the project into 2018 so I made a commitment to make a black and white photo every day and post it on my instagram account. I stuck to the original “no people, no explanation” rule and added in a couple of new rules.
First, the photo had to be made on the day that I posted it. No going back through the archives to find something. I had to actually go out every day and find something to photograph for the project. (There may have been occasions where the day was almost over and I’d not found anything that grabbed my attention and I had to resort to making arty photos of my front door or my wine glass at 11pm. Maybe . . . )
I was also known to take a photo of something intending to use it for the project that day, only to find something I liked better later in the day, and going back to the original subject a few days later to re-take the photo so that it was the correct date.
Second, hmmm, no there was no second. I intended that all the photos be made on my iPhone. I started out editing in Snapseed but swapped over to Lightroom CC for mobile several months in. There are a couple that started life on my SLR, but for the most part, these are phone photos. This was good in one way because I almost always have my phone on me and so I can take photos of anything, anytime. But it wasn’t so good for helping me to get to know my camera better (I only got it at the end of 2017) because I’d always be reaching for the phone rather than the camera.
I didn’t restrict myself in terms of subject matter either. It was perfectly okay to post a photo of something I’d already posted, as long as it was from a different angle or at a different time of day or had some other feature that made it look different to a previous photo.
So, what did I learn from 365 days of making black and white images?
It reinforced for me that not every image can be converted to black and white. I can’t just go out, take a photo and hit the B&W button and expect a good result. And if it’s a bad photo to start with, making it black and white doesn’t fix that.
Some subjects work better than others. I think images where there’s a lot going on don’t work as well, in a lot of cases, than images with a single, simple subject.
Sometimes having a lot in an image can work quite well too. Here, I think it’s all about the light and shadows and the contrast between the lovely T&G building that’s the main subject of the photo, and its surrounds.
As the year went on I found myself looking for lines and for light and shadows and trying to picture what effects might look good in a black and white image. Sometimes I think it worked.
Other times not so much.
I was increasingly drawn to making images like this
as well as finding joy in the more abstract things I saw around me and going crazy with the contrast.
It was an interesting, and challenging, 365-day project and one I’m glad I undertook. I know I’ve only just started to scratch the surface of black and white photography, but I’m hooked on it! I’m ready to learn a lot more in 2019, without the (self-imposed) pressure of having to post a new photograph every day.
I hope you enjoyed following my project in 2018. Thank you to the people who have supported me over the year. Your comments and encouragement have meant a lot to me.
To see the whole project, visit 2018 black & white project.