Ottawa Wedding Photography : Black and White Vs. Colour


Weddings are colourful events but they look even better in black and white

I'm not breaking any news when I say weddings are colourful events.

The summer scenery is colourful.

The vibrant flowers are colourful.

The artistic makeup is colourful.

The emotional people are colourful.

So you may be surprised to know I often prefer black and white when it comes to the best way to share wedding images whether in print or online.

Here are a few reasons why:

Colour can be distracting

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The the example above. By swiping the slider to the right or left, you can see Charles getting cleaned up in both black and white and colour.

Since I try to avoid using artificial light like on or off-camera flash, I'm constantly testing the limits of my Nikon cameras by shooting in very low available light.

In this case it was the very warm (yellow) light from a tungsten lamp over the mirror. It definitely case Charles in some moody light. And while I may have been able to compensate for most of the hue, I also want to be true to the setting so I left a little of the warm colouration in.

This can be distracting, however.

But when the image is black and white, the distracting yellow hue goes away and we are left with just areas of light and areas of dark, hence the term black and white.

Our human eye is naturally directed to the brightest part of any image. You can try this out for yourself by opening an image on your computer screen or smartphone, close your eyes and then open them up looking immediately at the image in front of you. Pay attention to where your eye falls first. It's likely on the brightest part of the image.

Black and white wedding photography is timeless

Colour trends come and go. Black and white is forever.

Remember looking through your parents' wedding or family photo album. They are locked in time not just because they were shot on film but because of the colour found the the outfits, the decor and that tacky wallpaper.

By sharing or printing your wedding images in black and white you remove the time stamp that colour applies.

Black and white wedding images cut to the heart of the matter

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Some of the most impactful photojournalism is shown in black and white. Starting in the bygone eras before colour film, photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson mastered capturing the decision moment in black and white and relished it's emotional immediacy.

Well, for me, weddings are pretty damn emotional so why not cut to the heart of the matter like the image above from Candace and Sven's wedding at Restaurant E18hteen.

When colour wedding photography is the only way

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So far I've talked about distracting colour.

As a wedding photojournalist, I'm all about capturing your day as you made it, not as I wish it looked. As a result I can't control all the elements so that there is no distracting colour.

Since I look to create epic bride and groom portraits at every wedding I cover, I try to make sure the colour that's in a portrait works and works really well.

Take the example above. The blue sky really pops and helps to cut Shirley and Jordan out of the background at Le Belvedere.

In black and white, they tend to blend into the background.


I provide my Ottawa wedding clients with their final portfolio of images in both colour and black and white. Sometime the choice is clear and sometimes it isn't but at least they have the option of how they want to remember their wedding moments.

Take a look back at your wedding images and see if you can find some that could be transformed with a switch to black and white.