Black and White corporate headshots and Black and White portraits, in general, are seen as preferable by many as the belief is that they are way more forgiving than colour images. Blemishes, redness, and uneven skin tone can appear to be magically removed when an image is converted to Black and White. This may seem like an easy fix but if these headshots are for your professional portraits, you may want to consider the following before you hit that “Monochrome” filter on your phone!
Do Black and White headshots suit your branding?
So you or your marketing team have spent months working on your branding template. The specific colour palette has been created along with your typography and company message. You now need to consider whether Black and White images suit your overall branding or whether colour ones may fit better against your colours. Of course, if you have a monochrome website then yes, monochrome images will look great. However, if your website has a clear colour palette, then matching images will sit much better with the viewer and add to an overall better experience.
Not all Black and White images are created equally!!!
Just like there is not one red or yellow, Black and White is not a set state. Many photographers can talk for hours about the nuances of monochrome colouring and grading. You can buy actions for photoshop that will emulate specific film from almost 100 years ago!
Even on my now aging iPhone 7 plus, the camera has three B&W ‘filters’ (Not a phrase to use around many professional photographers). Mono is a middle-of-the-road adjustment that retains the highlights and shadow detail while Silvertone adds darkness in the shadows, brightens the highlights and adds a warm tone and Noir creates a very contrasty look to the overall image.
If you do choose to have your headshots converted to Black and White. Ensure they are taken in colour and then converted by someone that understands some level of colour theory and can also replicate the same style as more people join your company. We often see different Black and Whites on a company galley, which does not add to the overall visitor experience.
Are Black and White Headshots old-fashioned or cool and hip?
An interesting exercise is to look at the “Meet the Team” photos on your competitors’ sites and see what your impression is of the teams there based on the headshots alone. Whatever your impression will probably match that of any potential clients looking as well. If they have Black and White Headshots, do they help to add gravitas and professionalism to the images or do they look like they have not been updated since 1975?
Of course, there is more to the images than just the colour grading. Expression, how they are dressed and the environment or background will also play a big part. Have a look and think about what perception of you and your team potential clients coming to your website, LinkedIn profile, etc may have about you and your organisation.
Are Black and White Headshots more forgiving than colour?
We all get blemishes from time to time or have uneven skin tone, tired eyes, etc. Switching an image to B&W can be a quick fix for removing any redness and evening-out skin tone. However, don’t think that colour headshots can’t be just as complimentary. In fact, colour images typically convey warmth and approachability that can be lost in monochrome.
A well-lit and subtly edited colour image will have great skin tones, no blemishes or tired eyes, and look like you ‘on a good day’! You may need a headshot photographer who understands lighting, posing and editing to ensure you look your best but you can also get great colour images on your phone if you understand light and shade.
What to wear for Black and White Headshots?
Black and White images by their very nature have a strong contrast to them in the darker areas. A good black and white will have that contrast between the dark and lighter areas. Think of a black and white landscape image with a dramatic sky. The dark areas will really add drama with the lighter areas creating the juxtaposition within the image.
For headshots in B&W, the same should be considered. Wear contrasting tones such as a dark jacket along with a lighter coloured shirt will look great. If you wear a tie, I would wear one that is darker rather than lighter. If you wear all white, the image may well look washed out.
As well as what to wear, consider the background for your B&W images. An environmental background with your office or similar will work great if there can be a mix of lighter and darker areas. If you are having a solid colour background, grey works really well at adding contrast.
Do Black and White images suit your industry (and do you want to change that)?
Many of our clients who are in traditional professional services industries (think Law, Banking, Insurance, etc.) have chosen Black and White headshots for many years and continue to do so. while many of our more contemporary or design led clients will opt for bright and fresh environmental headshots. Both can work really well, its just a matter of choice whether you have images that match the majority of the industry that you are in or whether you choose to break with tradition (this can work both ways).
NEVER MIX BLACK AND WHITE AND COLOUR IN YOUR HEADSHOTS!!!
You may well have seen wedding photographs where the couple is in black and white but the bouquet of flowers remain in colour. Selective colour or ‘colour popping’ has been very popular in the past and may well be again but currently, we wouldn’t advise it. It’s the first ‘trick’ that many photographers learn in Photoshop. Please don’t be tempted to have you and your colleagues in Black and White with the office behind them in colour or worse still, leave the eye colour in when the rest is B&W!!
Are Actor Headshots still in Black and White?
For many years, actors had to rely on one headshot that appeared in a book (now a website) called Spotlight. This book appeared once a year and contained just one headshot that was in Black and White. Thankfully now, Spotlight is online and you can have many different headshots on there. We actually recommend not putting B&W headshots on Spotlight as the colour conveys much more about your personality, etc.
Want to know more about our Actor Headshots? Click HERE
There is no right or wrong answer as to whether Black and White Headshots are right for you. It’s down to the style you prefer and the image you want to convey.
Find a photographer that can create images with contrast and areas of interest not just a monochrome image with all the colour sucked out!
If you would like to have a chat about how we can help you get great headshots in colour or Black and White, call Helen direct on 07810 004451.