A Matter of Black and White
By Ashley LeCompte
Photos by In His Grace Photography
The top layer of a frothy, buttercream wedding cake goes in the freezer. An ivory dress is packed away neatly in a closet. Thank you’s are mailed, the gifts unpacked and put away. And so it goes, the afterglow of a momentous day becomes a hazy cloud of memories a couple can only begin to parse through. But weeks after the bustling of their joyful day has quieted, they have something useful with which to do so: the wedding photos.
A photographer’s job is a duality of roles. They endeavor to tell the bride and groom’s wedding story chronologically throughout the day. A smear of mascara in a vanity mirror, the fixing of a groom’s tie, a first kiss shared. The moments that can’t be missed.
In doing so, they also aim to capture the essence of who the bride and groom are. They memorialize the special moments unfolding around the couple and the ones who came to share in such a remarkable occasion. It is an immersive effort, with them melting into the lives of many for one day.
And yet, while cementing the couple’s vision, the photographer also uses their medium to craft their own art: one of storytelling.
The value of such portraiture and journalistic shots cannot be understated or overlooked. Finding a photographer who will aspire to shape a couple’s vision while not compromising the artistry of what they do is key. A professional and seasoned photographer will use every skill at their disposal to tell the story. One such tool is the value of monochromatic, black and white portraits used economically and artistically as needed.
Words may be bantered about to describe the vision of a wedding day in the making. Will it be modern? Perhaps, a fairytale? An affair of simplicity? I once read a celebrity bride describe her wedding day as something akin to “romantic bordello meeting the wide open wilderness under a wild western sky.” That’s quite a few “w’s” to sift through, and yet it was her and her husband’s vision, however convoluted or extravagant it may sound to the rest of us.
One word, however, always seems to emerge in the conversation for brides across all spectrums of planning and design: timeless.
And what is that word, truly?
Does it conjure memories of the greatest movie stars of Hollywood’s golden age? Or perhaps a sepia toned photograph sitting on a mantlepiece at your grandmother’s? Does it mean something frozen or forgotten with time instead of something pulsing and relevant?
Has the word lost its luster over the years in a world saturated with social media? Through posts and media reels, we have many glimpses into the lives of others at the tips of our fingers. We are inundated to the brim with these brief snapshots, and yet, which things truly stay with us?
What can make a wedding day, and by extension, the story around it one that stands out?
What can make it a story that lasts?
Perhaps at times the word “classic” becomes lumped in the description of that which is outdated. We view it as outmoded and, as with so many things, including weddings, bow to the trends around us instead of endeavoring to tell our own story.
We are a world filled with timestamps and filters.
We are a world where 140 characters and story highlights vie for our limited attention.
We are a world that is slowly losing the ability to tell a story, giving way to one instead that is bent on creating content.
How can a bride and groom utilize the art of photography, the various skills of their photographer, to capture and cement their story? To make their story one that will stand the test of time?
While black and white shots may not be the preferred medium a wedding couple’s mind first leaps to, it is one that ought to be considered, both by them and the wedding photographer.
We once lived in a world of silent, black and white movies.There were no televisions, only the crackle of a radio that kept families gathered in the living room company. You paid to sit in a theater to watch the newsreels and a movie all in one. The notion of a constant stream of media to keep us company at all times was generations away. The world moved slower, the antithesis to the rush of today’s society.
In our times, camera negative specks became associated with a colorless world we once viewed only on newsreels, in newspapers and in photographs. We lived in a world without knowing the blue and brown eyes of our men returning from war, the sweeping gold of the American midwest and the roaring blue of the Pacific Ocean in photographic form.
We associate a lack of color as something lost, a piece of the story missing or the context of a perfect moment long since forgotten.
We think the full story can only be told with the assistance of color imagery and saturation. And while we would miss a world without knowing the glow in a bride’s brown eyes, the richness of a navy three piece suit or the petaled rainbow in a wedding bouquet, we indeed miss a world of storytelling if we think the only way we can even shape a story is through a prism of color.
Some moments allow the world to melt away. The backdrop of a cathedral or melon colored sunset melts into a single, flawless minute of time. Hands clutching one another. A father and daughter dance. The catchlights in a flower girl’s eyes. The world grows quiet for just a moment.
Some moments stop time. And some moments capture time. And within those moments, a stillness gives way to something that churns with life and activity.
Black and white does not denote a time long since passed. It cements a moment as one for the ages, where all things collectively held their breath and distilled into one perfect shot.
Where a story shone through.
In His Grace Photography