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Black and white Photography

Black and white photography is today one of countless photographic techniques and yet it was as at one time, the only type of photography available. This is the reason why it often tends to be associated with historical works and a vintage feel.

In the 1830s, Nièpce discovered how to print images onto metal plates. When he died in 1833, Louis Daguerre, followed by Francois Arago, continued to develop his research, resulting in the invention of the daguerreotype which consisted of an image printed onto a silver plate when exposed to the light. Together they invented photography.

The first black and white photos began to appear. Initially used for research purposes, photography started to spread as daguerreotype studios opened everywhere. Black and white portraits immortalised the faces of the upper middle classes and would later be used to capture all members of society. Celebrities were also a popular subject choice and many photographers specialised in taking their portraits, as Jean-Loup Sieff did all throughout his career almost a century after the invention of photography.

The first coloured photographs soon followed. The technique was invented as early as 1860 but was not put to use until a century later. In the meantime, many unforgettable artists began to demonstrate their talents for art photography. Street photography, for example, was a key trend during the 20th century, with major photographers such as Robert Doisneau, Brassi and Henri Cartier-Bresson capturing the urban landscape of the time. All three were masters of taking candid photos. They succeeded in making fleeting moments last forever in monochrome images. Sometimes humorous, sometimes romantic, or even just a little bizarre, they take us back in time to days gone by. Looking at such rare and fragile moments can be like going through old postcards from the past, and although we enjoy looking at them, they can provoke a sense of nostalgia and melancholy.

In the United States, the humanist Walker Evans led the way for black and white photography, capturing the daily life of modern America with his analogue camera, whether it be in the New York subway or on the highways of the Deep South. A little later, Robert Frank photographed the faces of America and the American people with his remarkable black and white shots, recognisable thanks to his highly distinctive photographic technique and composition.

Black and white photography isn’t just limited to representing daily life. As Ansel Adams demonstrates, it can also be used to capture the most magnificent landscapes. Black and white images are ideal for long-exposure photography, as the combination of the two makes it seem as if time is gently floating by. Michael Kenna and Arnaud Bertrande are two examples of photographers who excel in this domain.

It is easy to be fascinated by how perfectly the two colours complement each other in certain images. We often associate black with a sense of sadness and nothingness whilst white is suggestive of light and hope (although the Western signification of the colour white contrasts with that of other cultures, for example in Japan, white symbolises death). The combination of the two shades highlights the contrast and accentuates the shapes in the image with elegance and simplicity. It often draws our attention to a rather unique subject and our perception of it can vary depending on the chosen shades and centring. It is often used to create a sense of nostalgia and history to convey a timeless message that seems frozen in time.

Travel back in time with Artsper’s collection of black and white limited edition art photographs, available in big and small formats, from artists including Brno Del Zou, Bert Stern, Ellen Von Unwert, Karl-Martin Holzhäuzer, Wang Wusheng, Lee Jeffries and Hervé Gloaguen.We also recommend Herve Hall’s images of the Brooklyn Bridge and the beautiful sepia photos of the Eiffel Tower by Jean-Paul Lubliner.

Collector’s Guide: Collecting Fine Art Photographs

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Pierrot Men, De père en fils, Ranomafana, Madagascar, Photography

Pierrot Men

De père en fils, Ranomafana, Madagascar, 2015
30 x 45 cm
Photography

$2,597

Miguel Winograd, Bosque Tropical Húmedo Nuquí, Photography

Miguel Winograd

Bosque Tropical Húmedo Nuquí, 2021
110 x 91.9 x 0.3 cm
Photography

$3,500

Alexandre Manuel, Zhangjiajie I, China, Photography

Alexandre Manuel

Zhangjiajie I, China, 2017
100 x 100 x 4 cm
Photography

$4,328

Stéphane Navailles, Sortie bw Paris, Photography

Stéphane Navailles

Sortie bw Paris, 2021
40 x 60 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$641

Van de Camp & Heesterbeek, 2050-9, Photography

Van de Camp & Heesterbeek

2050-9, 2019
100 x 100 x 1 cm
Photography

$4,946

Philippe Bréson, Pays #181, Photography

Philippe Bréson

Pays #181, 2012
27 x 27 cm
Photography

$810 $900

Richard Morrison, Olive Heads, Luberon, France, Photography

Richard Morrison

Olive Heads, Luberon, France, 2019
64 x 96 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$648

Hunter & Gatti, Untitled I (Intervened by the artist), Photography

Hunter & Gatti

Untitled I (Intervened by the artist), 2015
47 x 31.8 x 0.3 cm
Photography

$2,500

Jean-Pierre Duvergé, Ethiopie sud: enfants mursi., Photography

Jean-Pierre Duvergé

Ethiopie sud: enfants mursi., 2018
40 x 50 x 1 cm
Photography

$556

Antoine Gaussin, Evasion 2, Photography

Antoine Gaussin

Evasion 2, 2020
90 x 190 x 5 cm
Photography

$6,399

Paulo Behar, Olhar felino, Photography

Paulo Behar

Olhar felino, 2017
100 x 100 x 1 cm
Photography

$6,183

Terry O'Neill, Faye Dunaway, Photography

Terry O'Neill

Faye Dunaway, 1977
50.8 x 50.8 cm
Photography

$18,000

Toshio Shimamura, Eva #05, Photography

Toshio Shimamura

Eva #05, 2020
32 x 24 cm
Photography

$1,224

Araquém Alcântara, Brasileiros, Child with pan, Photography

Araquém Alcântara

Brasileiros, Child with pan, 2004
40 x 60 x 1 cm
Photography

$3,957

Man Ray, Portrait of Francis Picabia, Photography

Man Ray

Portrait of Francis Picabia, 1935
27 x 21 x 0.2 cm
Photography

$39,570

Tanguy Mendrisse, Before the mess, Photography

Tanguy Mendrisse

Before the mess, 2019
24 x 30 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$173

Feng Hatat, Ombre et lumière III, Photography

Feng Hatat

Ombre et lumière III, 2014
48 x 32 x 1 cm
Photography

$556 $618

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Project for a Public Building's Packaging, Photography

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Project for a Public Building's Packaging, 1971
54 x 70 x 0.2 cm
Photography

$6,183

Mihaela Ivanova, Winter wind II, Photography

Mihaela Ivanova

Winter wind II, 2012
50 x 50 x 0.2 cm
Photography

$754

Samuel Cueto, Silence, Photography

Samuel Cueto

Silence, 2014
50 x 40 cm
Photography

$1,113

Our recommendations Gerry Cranham, White Hart Lane, Photography

Gerry Cranham

White Hart Lane, 1964
40 x 60 cm
Photography

$1,855

Lucien Clergue, Maïs, Le Marais D'Arles, Photography

Lucien Clergue

Maïs, Le Marais D'Arles, 1960
25.2 x 16.5 x 0.3 cm
Photography

$2,968

Ed Reddon, Banana leaves #10, Photography

Ed Reddon

Banana leaves #10, 2020
21 x 14 cm
Photography

$111

Laurent Gudin, Lamb I, Photography

Laurent Gudin

Lamb I, 2009
48 x 48 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$2,411

Olivier Le Brun, Mada 2, Photography

Olivier Le Brun

Mada 2, 2000
30 x 45 cm
Photography

$1,305

Our recommendations Sébastien Chauchot, Céréales 3, Photography

Sébastien Chauchot

Céréales 3, 2019
40 x 35 x 1 cm
Photography

$390 $433

Claudio Palmieri, Figura Fitomorfa, Photography

Claudio Palmieri

Figura Fitomorfa, 2006
97 x 75 x 0.2 cm
Photography

$5,565

Tenesh Webber, Spiral II, Photography

Tenesh Webber

Spiral II, 2001
50.8 x 50.8 cm
Photography

$4,032

Sonac, Le Lama en Urbex, Photography

Sonac

Le Lama en Urbex, 2018
60 x 60 cm
Photography

$1,360

Our recommendations Serge Mendjisky, Statue de la Liberté HC, Photography

Serge Mendjisky

Statue de la Liberté HC, 2008
150 x 66 x 5 cm
Photography

$14,839

Maud Chalard, Lost & Found, Photography

Maud Chalard

Lost & Found, 2019
20 x 30 x 2 cm
Photography

$433

Muriel Despiau, Maheo Road, Photography

Muriel Despiau

Maheo Road, 2019
19 x 29 x 1 cm
Photography

$136

Baptiste Blanchett, Bande d'ordures, Photography

Baptiste Blanchett

Bande d'ordures, 2018
50 x 75 x 1 cm
Photography

$989

Wang XiaoZhou, Fleur 5, Photography

Wang XiaoZhou

Fleur 5, 2017
30 x 40 x 1 cm
Photography

$501 $556

Jodi Bieber, Cardiff by night, Photography

Jodi Bieber

Cardiff by night, 2003
70 x 50 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$3,265

Christophe Battifero, Under the Bridge, Photography

Christophe Battifero

Under the Bridge, 2020
40 x 30 x 1 cm
Photography

$519

Our recommendations Cristina Aldehuela, Lelo 1, Photography

Cristina Aldehuela

Lelo 1, 2014
40 x 60 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$1,608

Michel Di Maggio, Poséidon (Christophe Charbonnel), Photography

Michel Di Maggio

Poséidon (Christophe Charbonnel), 2018
110 x 94 x 5 cm
Photography

$2,720

Karine Paoli, Têtes d'Affiches #1, Photography

Karine Paoli

Têtes d'Affiches #1, 1993
122 x 76 x 3 cm
Photography

$2,473

Bruno Fournier, femme masquée II, Photography

Bruno Fournier

femme masquée II, 2008
80 x 80 x 1 cm
Photography

$1,978

Valentina Murabito, Illusion Study no. 1, Photography

Valentina Murabito

Illusion Study no. 1, 2019
36 x 40 x 0.5 cm
Photography

$6,183

Helmut Newton, Fashion Photograph, Paris 1976, Photography

Helmut Newton

Fashion Photograph, Paris 1976, 1980
41 x 27 cm
Photography

$1,101

Raphaël Groux, Patterning, Photography

Raphaël Groux

Patterning, 2017
50 x 50 cm
Photography

$272

Vanessa Vercel, Arc de triomphe, Photography

Vanessa Vercel

Arc de triomphe, 2020
70 x 105 x 2 cm
Photography

$1,608

Bettino Craxi, Zitouna Mosque, Photography

Bettino Craxi

Zitouna Mosque, 1994
49 x 53 x 0.4 cm
Photography

$680

Urs Lüthi, Un’isola nell’aria, Photography

Urs Lüthi

Un’isola nell’aria, 1975
50 x 60 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$1,051

Ben Thouard, Au vol, Photography

Ben Thouard

Au vol, 2019
80 x 120 x 1 cm
Photography

$3,401

Alexis Berg, Kilian, Photography

Alexis Berg

Kilian, 2016
30 x 30 cm
Photography

$655

Ian Bradshaw, Reagan and the queen, Photography

Ian Bradshaw

Reagan and the queen, 1982
40 x 60 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$1,484

Yuriko Takagi, SEI P-44, Photography

Yuriko Takagi

SEI P-44, 1991
33 x 33 x 2 cm
Photography

$2,226

Alain Schroeder, Kid Jockey I, Photography

Alain Schroeder

Kid Jockey I, 2017
40 x 60 cm
Photography

$1,855

Uwe Ommer, Foot de rue, Photography

Uwe Ommer

Foot de rue, 1962
40 x 48 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$1,484

Anthony Mirial, Blessures de guerre, Photography

Anthony Mirial

Blessures de guerre, 2015
125 x 85 cm
Photography

$11,129

Emmanuelle Barbaras, Assemblée femmes Dakar, Photography

Emmanuelle Barbaras

Assemblée femmes Dakar, 2018
45 x 38 x 1 cm
Photography

$866

Sandrine Elberg, Meteor / asteroid, Photography

Sandrine Elberg

Meteor / asteroid, 2017
40 x 30 x 2 cm
Photography

$1,237

Jurgen Schadeberg, Botswana Beer Festival, Photography

Jurgen Schadeberg

Botswana Beer Festival, 1973
47 x 60 cm
Photography

$6,677

Jean-François Talivez, Power struggle, Photography

Jean-François Talivez

Power struggle, 1992
60 x 40 cm
Photography

$1,088

Our recommendations Pierre Schwartz, Victoire Montmorency, Photography

Pierre Schwartz

Victoire Montmorency, 2010
80 x 80 cm
Photography

$989

Luc Médrinal, Vu d'ici 1, Photography

Luc Médrinal

Vu d'ici 1, 2016
21 x 59 x 0.3 cm
Photography

$297

Bastien Bonnarme, Fred David - Dolphin Bodysurf, Photography

Bastien Bonnarme

Fred David - Dolphin Bodysurf, 2017
80 x 120 x 0.3 cm
Photography

$1,855

Claudio Abate, Untitled, Photography

Claudio Abate

Untitled, 1989
40 x 29 x 0.01 cm
Photography

$22,258

Tali Amitai-Tabib, Dalia, Photography

Tali Amitai-Tabib

Dalia, 2017
30 x 40 x 2 cm
Photography

$2,349

Our recommendations Michel Birot, Frères, Photography

Michel Birot

Frères, 2005
60 x 90 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$4,884

Pol Lujan, Chien - Christian Dior, Photography

Pol Lujan

Chien - Christian Dior, 1990
50 x 40 cm
Photography

$989

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