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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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Chema Madoz, Untitled, Photography

Chema Madoz

Untitled, 1987
23.6 x 19.7 inch
Photography

$3,194

Detlev Schneider, Nenneh Cherry, Photography

Detlev Schneider

Nenneh Cherry, 1996
19.7 x 15.7 inch
Photography

$1,326

Jan Saudek, Ost und West, 1945, Photography

Jan Saudek

Ost und West, 1945, 1998
8 x 5.9 inch
Photography

$1,808

Vytautas Kumza, Half empty half full #5, Photography

Vytautas Kumza

Half empty half full #5, 2019
11.4 x 7.5 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$723

Richard Morrison, Damme Canal, Bruges, Photography

Richard Morrison

Damme Canal, Bruges, 2018
25.2 x 37.8 inch
Photography

$635

Frantisek Drtikol, 2 women with bouquet of roses, Photography

Frantisek Drtikol

2 women with bouquet of roses, 1919
10.2 x 7.5 inch
Photography

$1,446

Horst P. Horst, Yasmin Le Bon Chanel contact sheet, Vogue UK, Photography

Horst P. Horst

Yasmin Le Bon Chanel contact sheet, Vogue UK, 1986
70.9 x 54.1 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$25,000

Olivier Urfer, Gornergletcher, Photography

Olivier Urfer

Gornergletcher, 2014
27.6 x 27.6 x 0.2 inch
Photography

$1,762

Christophe Gadea, Alu, Photography

Christophe Gadea

Alu, 2021
15.7 x 15.7 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$1,567

Osher Partovi, Black Magic, Photography

Osher Partovi

Black Magic, 2019
39.4 x 55.1 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$2,411

Peter Knapp, Zazie, Hamburg (stern), Photography

Peter Knapp

Zazie, Hamburg (stern), 1970
8.3 x 8.3 x 0.2 inch
Photography

$4,339

Stephane Charpentier, 481-01, Photography

Stephane Charpentier

481-01, 2012
7.9 x 11.8 x 0.2 inch
Photography

$3,134

Man Ray, Portrait of Francis Picabia, Photography

Man Ray

Portrait of Francis Picabia, 1935
10.6 x 8.3 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$38,570

Samuel Cueto, Silence, Photography

Samuel Cueto

Silence, 2014
19.7 x 15.7 inch
Photography

$1,085

Théo Gosselin, Lost and Found, Photography

Théo Gosselin

Lost and Found, 2019
7.9 x 11.8 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$422

Julie Peiffer, 11h53 - 6,09, Crue de la Seine - Paris 2016, Photography

Julie Peiffer

11h53 - 6,09, Crue de la Seine - Paris 2016, 2016
19.7 x 19.7 inch
Photography

$856

Our recommendations Gerry Cranham, White Hart Lane, Photography

Gerry Cranham

White Hart Lane, 1964
15.7 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$1,808

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

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Project for a Public Building's Packaging, 1971
21.3 x 27.6 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$6,027

Mihaela Ivanova, Winter wind II, Photography

Mihaela Ivanova

Winter wind II, 2012
19.7 x 19.7 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$735

Uwe Ommer, Foot de rue, Photography

Uwe Ommer

Foot de rue, 1962
15.7 x 18.9 x 0 inch
Photography

$1,446

Our recommendations Sébastien Chauchot, Céréales 3, Photography

Sébastien Chauchot

Céréales 3, 2019
15.7 x 13.8 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$422

Arkadiy Kurta, Cloister Belle, Photography

Arkadiy Kurta

Cloister Belle, 2016
16 x 20 inch
Photography

$1,085

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

Lucien Clergue

Maïs, Le Marais D'Arles, 1960
9.9 x 6.5 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$2,893

Dominique Jullien, Pêcheur de Loire, Photography

Dominique Jullien

Pêcheur de Loire, 2019
5.1 x 11.8 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$362

Pierrot Men, Série briques, Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, Photography

Pierrot Men

Série briques, Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, 2015
11.8 x 17.7 inch
Photography

$2,290

Yevgeniy Repiashenko, Asphodel, Photography

Yevgeniy Repiashenko

Asphodel, 2020
47.2 x 47.2 x 0 inch
Photography

$2,170

Laurent Gudin, Lamb I, Photography

Laurent Gudin

Lamb I, 2009
18.9 x 18.9 x 0 inch
Photography

$2,350

Bruno Fournier, Diane Kruger 4, Photography

Bruno Fournier

Diane Kruger 4, 1993
18.1 x 11.8 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$1,808

Laura Makabresku, Cabinet of Souls (Armoire à Âmes), Photography

Laura Makabresku

Cabinet of Souls (Armoire à Âmes), 2016
7.9 x 7.9 inch
Photography

$392

Arturo Fermandois, Éclipse, Photography

Arturo Fermandois

Éclipse, 2017
15.7 x 19.7 inch
Photography

$940

Karine Paoli, Têtes d'Affiches #1, Photography

Karine Paoli

Têtes d'Affiches #1, 1993
48 x 29.9 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$2,411

Wang XiaoZhou, Fleur 5, Photography

Wang XiaoZhou

Fleur 5, 2017
11.8 x 15.7 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$542

Baptiste Blanchett, Gotta catch'em all, Photography

Baptiste Blanchett

Gotta catch'em all, 2018
19.7 x 29.5 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$783

Olivier Le Brun, Mada 2, Photography

Olivier Le Brun

Mada 2, 2000
11.8 x 17.7 inch
Photography

$1,272

Yuriko Takagi, SEI P-44, Photography

Yuriko Takagi

SEI P-44, 1991
13 x 13 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$2,170

Our recommendations Cristina Aldehuela, Lelo 1, Photography

Cristina Aldehuela

Lelo 1, 2014
15.7 x 23.6 x 0 inch
Photography

$1,567

Roger Ballen, Spooky Eyes, Photography

Roger Ballen

Spooky Eyes, 2012
14.2 x 9.4 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$2,411

Claudio Palmieri, Figura Fitomorfa, Photography

Claudio Palmieri

Figura Fitomorfa, 2006
38.2 x 29.5 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$5,424

Bettino Craxi, Zitouna Mosque, Photography

Bettino Craxi

Zitouna Mosque, 1994
19.3 x 20.9 x 0.2 inch
Photography

$663

Urs Lüthi, Un’isola nell’aria, Photography

Urs Lüthi

Un’isola nell’aria, 1975
19.7 x 23.6 x 0 inch
Photography

$1,025

Sonac, Le Lama en Urbex, Photography

Sonac

Le Lama en Urbex, 2018
23.6 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$1,326

Helmut Newton, Fashion Photograph, Paris 1976, Photography

Helmut Newton

Fashion Photograph, Paris 1976, 1980
16.1 x 10.6 inch
Photography

$1,073

Alexis Berg, Kilian, Photography

Alexis Berg

Kilian, 2016
11.8 x 11.8 inch
Photography

$639

Vanessa Vercel, Arc de triomphe, Photography

Vanessa Vercel

Arc de triomphe, 2020
27.6 x 41.3 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$1,567

Maud Chalard, Lost & Found, Photography

Maud Chalard

Lost & Found, 2019
7.9 x 11.8 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$422

Tali Amitai-Tabib, Dalia, Photography

Tali Amitai-Tabib

Dalia, 2017
11.8 x 15.7 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$2,290

Raphaël Groux, Patterning, Photography

Raphaël Groux

Patterning, 2017
19.7 x 19.7 inch
Photography

$163

Christophe Battifero, Under the Bridge, Photography

Christophe Battifero

Under the Bridge, 2020
15.7 x 11.8 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$506

Bastien Bonnarme, Fred David - Dolphin Bodysurf, Photography

Bastien Bonnarme

Fred David - Dolphin Bodysurf, 2017
31.5 x 47.2 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$1,627 $1,808

Emmanuelle Barbaras, Assemblée femmes Dakar, Photography

Emmanuelle Barbaras

Assemblée femmes Dakar, 2018
17.7 x 15 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$844

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

Serge Mendjisky

Statue de la Liberté HC, 2008
59.1 x 26 x 2 inch
Photography

$14,464

Our recommendations Pierre Schwartz, Victoire Montmorency, Photography

Pierre Schwartz

Victoire Montmorency, 2010
31.5 x 31.5 inch
Photography

$964

Pol Lujan, Chien - Christian Dior, Photography

Pol Lujan

Chien - Christian Dior, 1990
19.7 x 15.7 inch
Photography

$964

Sandrine Elberg, Meteor / asteroid, Photography

Sandrine Elberg

Meteor / asteroid, 2017
15.7 x 11.8 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$1,205

Ben Thouard, Sparkling, Photography

Ben Thouard

Sparkling, 2019
23.6 x 35.4 x 0 inch
Photography

$1,989

Muriel Despiau, Maheo Road, Photography

Muriel Despiau

Maheo Road, 2019
7.5 x 11.4 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$133

Olivier Semon, Riding boots, Photography

Olivier Semon

Riding boots, 2015
23.6 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$1,808

Jodi Bieber, Cardiff by night, Photography

Jodi Bieber

Cardiff by night, 2003
27.6 x 19.7 x 0 inch
Photography

$3,182

Ian Bradshaw, Reagan and the queen, Photography

Ian Bradshaw

Reagan and the queen, 1982
15.7 x 23.6 x 0 inch
Photography

$1,446

Alain Bouillot, Sans titre, Photography

Alain Bouillot

Sans titre, 2019
9.4 x 11.8 inch
Photography

$844

Michel Di Maggio, Poséidon (Christophe Charbonnel), Photography

Michel Di Maggio

Poséidon (Christophe Charbonnel), 2018
43.3 x 37 x 2 inch
Photography

$2,652

Alain Schroeder, Kid Jockey I, Photography

Alain Schroeder

Kid Jockey I, 2017
15.7 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$1,808

Our recommendations Julien Poupart, Ensemble, Photography

Julien Poupart

Ensemble, 2011
15.7 x 23.6 x 0 inch
Photography

$1,145

Jean-François Talivez, Power struggle, Photography

Jean-François Talivez

Power struggle, 1992
23.6 x 15.7 inch
Photography

$1,061

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