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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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Our recommendations James Sparshatt, La Linea, Photography

James Sparshatt

La Linea, 2004
40 x 50 cm
Photography

$1,385

Lionel le Jeune, Rock n roll, Photography

Lionel le Jeune

Rock n roll, 2021
80 x 80 x 0.5 cm
Photography

$690

John Kenny, Malasso, Photography

John Kenny

Malasso, 2009
67 x 45 x 2 cm
Photography

$1,159

Gonçalo Martins, D'Arens Cliff in Fog, Algarve, Photography

Gonçalo Martins

D'Arens Cliff in Fog, Algarve, 2012
19 x 19 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$138

Cécile Plaisance, Steve & Faye, Photography

Cécile Plaisance

Steve & Faye, 2017
95 x 125 x 5 cm
Photography

$14,283

Alexander Benz, Styled, Photography

Alexander Benz

Styled, 2021
40 x 40 x 0.2 cm
Photography

$577

Mathieu Puga, Les pensées, Photography

Mathieu Puga

Les pensées, 2021
75 x 50 x 0.01 cm
Photography

$626

Marino Parisotto, La Douce Obsession Totale 6_bw, Photography

Marino Parisotto

La Douce Obsession Totale 6_bw, 2016
30 x 40 cm
Photography

$1,255

Monica Denevan, Convergence, Photography

Monica Denevan

Convergence, 2011
87 x 87 cm
Photography

$4,373

Emanuele Cucuzza, WhatEyeAm I, Photography

Emanuele Cucuzza

WhatEyeAm I, 2011
90 x 60 cm
Photography

$1,255

Philip Provily, Rosa, Photography

Philip Provily

Rosa, 2000
49.4 x 38 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$1,505

Jesus Chamizo, Palacios Tribute 2, Photography

Jesus Chamizo

Palacios Tribute 2, 2015
125 x 80 x 0.2 cm
Photography

$2,333

Antoine Buttafoghi, Kalaallit Nunaat 01, Photography

Antoine Buttafoghi

Kalaallit Nunaat 01, 2017
60 x 90 cm
Photography

$1,505

Michel Monteaux, Un_Still, Photography

Michel Monteaux

Un_Still, 2020
59 x 59 cm
Photography

$2,509

Charles Brabin, Leaf Veins III, Photography

Charles Brabin

Leaf Veins III, 2015
30 x 42 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$255

Patrick Betbeder, Main dans la main, Photography

Patrick Betbeder

Main dans la main, 2020
70 x 100 x 3 cm
Photography

$1,882

Jean-Michel Voge, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Daughter China Moses, Paris, Photography

Jean-Michel Voge

Dee Dee Bridgewater and Daughter China Moses, Paris, 1987
61 x 43.2 cm
Photography

$2,000

Feng Hatat, Ombre et lumière III, Photography

Feng Hatat

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

$565 $627

Cécile Baldewyns, Fairy, Photography

Cécile Baldewyns

Fairy, 2014
40 x 60 cm
Photography

$878

Man Ray, Portrait of Francis Picabia, Photography

Man Ray

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

$40,146

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

$3,011

Pierrot Men, Mananara, Madagascar, 2014, Photography

Pierrot Men

Mananara, Madagascar, 2014, 2016
30 x 45 cm
Photography

$2,635

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

$6,273

Olivier Le Brun, Mada 2, Photography

Olivier Le Brun

Mada 2, 2000
30 x 45 cm
Photography

$1,324

Mihaela Ivanova, Svyatibor, Photography

Mihaela Ivanova

Svyatibor, 2011
50 x 50 cm
Photography

$765

Our recommendations Gerry Cranham, White Hart Lane, Photography

Gerry Cranham

White Hart Lane, 1964
40 x 60 cm
Photography

$1,882

Helmut Newton, Père Lachaise, Paris 1977, Photography

Helmut Newton

Père Lachaise, Paris 1977, 1980
41 x 27 cm
Photography

$1,117

Maud Chalard, Lost & Found, Photography

Maud Chalard

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

$439

Jorg Karg, Pont Neuf - Small Format, Photography

Jorg Karg

Pont Neuf - Small Format, 2017
80 x 60 x 3 cm
Photography

$2,007

Faith XLVII, The Unbound 1 (L), Photography

Faith XLVII

The Unbound 1 (L), 2018
88.9 x 73.7 cm
Photography

$2,200

Bert Stern, Marilyn in Vogue (1962), Photography

Bert Stern

Marilyn in Vogue (1962), 2011
48 x 33 x 1 cm
Photography

$2,497

Ed Reddon, Banana leaves #10, Photography

Ed Reddon

Banana leaves #10, 2020
21 x 14 cm
Photography

$113

Mutines, Lily smoke, Photography

Mutines

Lily smoke, 2019
75 x 50 x 0.5 cm
Photography

$790

Tenesh Webber, Spiral II, Photography

Tenesh Webber

Spiral II, 2001
50.8 x 50.8 cm
Photography

$4,081

Muriel Despiau, Maheo Road, Photography

Muriel Despiau

Maheo Road, 2019
19 x 29 x 1 cm
Photography

$138

Vanessa Vercel, Eiffel oiseaux, Photography

Vanessa Vercel

Eiffel oiseaux, 2020
70 x 105 x 2 cm
Photography

$1,631

Baptiste Blanchett, Bande d'ordures, Photography

Baptiste Blanchett

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

$1,004

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

$15,055

Sonac, Le Lama en Urbex, Photography

Sonac

Le Lama en Urbex, 2018
60 x 60 cm
Photography

$1,380

Jean-Loup Gautreau, Agnès Varda - Les plages d'Agnès, Photography

Jean-Loup Gautreau

Agnès Varda - Les plages d'Agnès, 2008
30 x 40 cm
Photography

$376

Luuk De Haan, Wellicht 3, Photography

Luuk De Haan

Wellicht 3, 2013
29.7 x 21 cm
Photography

$656

Seb Janiak, Gravity liquid 58 (Large), Photography

Seb Janiak

Gravity liquid 58 (Large), 2015
160 x 125.6 cm
Photography

$8,746

Our recommendations Cristina Aldehuela, Lelo 1, Photography

Cristina Aldehuela

Lelo 1, 2014
40 x 60 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$1,631

Samzaï, Au pied des grues, Photography

Samzaï

Au pied des grues, 2019
30 x 44 x 1 cm
Photography

$251

Our recommendations Karine Paoli, Têtes d'Affiches #3, Photography

Karine Paoli

Têtes d'Affiches #3, 2001
122 x 76 x 3 cm
Photography

$2,509

Christophe Battifero, Under the Bridge, Photography

Christophe Battifero

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

$527

Claudio Palmieri, Figura Fitomorfa, Photography

Claudio Palmieri

Figura Fitomorfa, 2006
97 x 75 x 0.2 cm
Photography

$5,646

José Nicolas, La Sainte Victoire, Photography

José Nicolas

La Sainte Victoire, 2019
22 x 22 cm
Photography

$414

Valentina Murabito, Illusion Study no. 1, Photography

Valentina Murabito

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

$6,273

Urs Lüthi, Un’isola nell’aria, Photography

Urs Lüthi

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

$1,066

André Le Mauff, L'arbre, n°1/2, Photography

André Le Mauff

L'arbre, n°1/2, 2018
25 x 25 cm
Photography

$502

Anthony Mirial, Blessures de guerre, Photography

Anthony Mirial

Blessures de guerre, 2015
125 x 85 cm
Photography

$11,291

Laurent Gudin, Hand I, Photography

Laurent Gudin

Hand I, 2004
40 x 40 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$2,007

Emmanuelle Barbaras, Assemblée femmes Dakar, Photography

Emmanuelle Barbaras

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

$878

Raphaël Groux, Patterning, Photography

Raphaël Groux

Patterning, 2017
50 x 50 cm
Photography

$273

Ian Bradshaw, Reagan and the queen, Photography

Ian Bradshaw

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

$1,505

Laura Makabresku, Silence, Photography

Laura Makabresku

Silence, 2017
20 x 30 cm
Photography

$408

Ben Thouard, Au vol, Photography

Ben Thouard

Au vol, 2019
80 x 120 x 1 cm
Photography

$3,450

Michel Di Maggio, Poséidon (Christophe Charbonnel), Photography

Michel Di Maggio

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

$2,760

Jodi Bieber, Cardiff by night, Photography

Jodi Bieber

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

$3,312

Yuriko Takagi, SEI P-44, Photography

Yuriko Takagi

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

$2,258

Bruno Bisang, Linda Evangelista & Claudia Schiffer Versace - Haute Couture (Unframed), Photography

Bruno Bisang

Linda Evangelista & Claudia Schiffer Versace - Haute Couture (Unframed), 1998
80 x 60 x 1 cm
Photography

$4,015

Bettino Craxi, Zitouna Mosque, Photography

Bettino Craxi

Zitouna Mosque, 1994
49 x 53 x 0.4 cm
Photography

$690

Alain Schroeder, Kid Jockey I, Photography

Alain Schroeder

Kid Jockey I, 2017
40 x 60 cm
Photography

$1,882

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