What is it about black and white photography that makes it so special? It has an elegance that color doesn’t achieve. I think it’s because it reminds us of a simpler time, of the days when glamorous celebrities were photographed beautifully in black and white. I remember so many photos of the Kennedy family, all in elegant black and white. I have a box full of treasured black and white photographs of my own family, some of them dating back to the early 1900s.
The top photo was taken in 1912. It’s a photo of my father in the rocking chair and my uncle standing next to him. The photo was cut out by hand and pasted to the matte you see here. Many of you will find the clothing choices a little strange for boys, but in 1912 this is how boys were dressed for photos. I am also struck by the sober expressions on the boy’s faces. Social norms have really changed in the last 100 years.
I have also included a photo taken in about 1950 of my mother holding my brother and standing for a group shot with my grandparents. These were the days when women wore dresses, not sweats and jeans like we do now. My mother was always in what she called a “house dress”. The men wore hats. My grandfather is wearing a hat in most of the photos I have of him and I have several with my dad wearing a hat as well.
These photos with the curly edges came attached together in a row of photos with serrated edges between them to allow for easy tearing to separate them. If you look carefully, you can see the edges were torn on both the right and left outer edges of the photograph.
I take the majority of photographs in color and then I convert some into black and white photos. I can add film grain in Photoshop if desired. The result is a beautiful and elegant black and white film look. The advantage of doing it digitally is that you can have the same photos processed in color and black and white. Black and white photography can also be beautifully bound into a book to become a timeless treasure for your family.
If you have an interest in black and white photography for your own family, please check out the Layland Masuda Photography website for more information. Edie Layland is a portrait photographer located in Orange County, California.