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Timeless Wedding Photos: Colour Vs Black And White! with Carina Ioannou from Love / Life Photography

Ever wondered why you get both Colour AND Black and White Wedding Photos? There’s a subtle but powerful reason why! Carina Ioannou shares her secrets with us!

Listen to Carina on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…


Love / Life Photography By Carina Ioannou


James [00:00:03] Hi Carina lovely to see you. 

Carina [00:00:07] Hi. How are you? 

James [00:00:09] Very well and yourself? 

Carina [00:00:09] I’m really, really good. It’s been lovely today. Nice and sunshiney down here in Essex. 

James [00:00:16] Plenty of smiles. 

Carina [00:00:16] Yes. 

James [00:00:20] Brilliant.  So you are Carina Ioannou, have I pronounced that right? 

Carina [00:00:24] Yes you have, that’s fine. 

James [00:00:25] And your company is Love:Life Photography by Carina and obviously by the name you are a wedding photographer. 

Carina [00:00:35] Yes. 

James [00:00:36] So when we initially came across your work something really, really stuck out in my mind and it’s something I’d like to discuss with you today if that’s okay. 

Carina [00:00:46] Yeah great. 

James [00:00:47] It was the topic of photography and colouring. And I was thinking about this as a broader issue.

So the topic title today is “Timeless Wedding Photos: Colour vs Black and White”.

Because if we scoot back just maybe a couple of years or maybe even less, there was a real trend in the industry to provide some really heavy colour processing. And I reckon if you shop around today you can probably still find photographers that do it. Very, very stylised, very heavy image manipulation. 

James [00:01:24] And I noticed from your website, two things actually, that your colours are really natural, which I think is kind of the trend at the moment. And natural looking colours are obviously going to provide timeless photographs. So that’s a really, really great place to start. And then also I noticed that with your black and white images, the black and white is spot on. Now if you get….you probably know as a photographer, if you get black and white wrong, it just becomes like a muddy grey, it’s really, really important to get the highlights and also get those nice rich blacks as well. 

Carina [00:02:05] Yeah there’s a danger of flatness isn’t there? 

James [00:02:05] Absolutely. Your images just ping so let’s have a talk about it.

First of all colour versus black and white. Why do brides have to receive both? What happens? How does it work?

Carina [00:02:21] I’ve been thinking about this since you sent me the question. And I think for one, when I was looking back at my own imagery, and I was looking at why I chose one as black and white and why I had chosen some as colour. And what struck me was that the images that were black and white, they needed a certain mood to them. So perhaps silhouettes. Or another reason was it worked well with some of the, not candid, but sort of action documentary shots, ones which are not necessarily posed, and ones which are from a distance. It gave it some movement, the colour takes away maybe, different distractions. So it kind of gives a little bit of a documentary feel to it, I think!

James [00:03:21] I suppose historically speaking the way people have received colour is probably starting out with black and white TV, isn’t it? And then moving into the big wow at the time, which was colour TV. 

Carina [00:03:35] Yeah. 

James [00:03:36] So I mean even photography has followed a similar trend if you look at old photography, it’s all black and white, and fantastic quality. And then obviously we introduced colour cameras.

But the early colour cameras, the quality wasn’t as good as the black and white. But I think we have parity nowadays. 

Carina [00:03:53] Yeah. 

James [00:03:55] So obviously it’s up to the discretion of the the artist really to decide which way it goes. So I liked the point that you raised about colour being a distraction, because obviously people think colour “Wow that’s the future, everything in colour”. But actually there are times when, like you said, I totally agree with you that colour is a massive distraction. 

Carina [00:04:17] Yes it certainly can be and like I said my first reason, it’s nice if there’s a mood or a silhouette, that you’re sort of playing with light, and not just wedding photography, but just photography in general if it just adds a certain feeling to it. 

James [00:04:39] Can we use the word timeless? 

Carina [00:04:42] We can use the word timeless yeah, if you like. Yeah it can be timeless as well. And timeless in fact referring to your first point about the use of colour and editing. Like you say there’s a lot of presets out there and clients talk to me about filters and photo-shopping, yes there’s an element of that in my work. But I really, really try and keep it to as natural as possible. 

Carina [00:05:18] Obviously you can see that I’ve worked with the images, but I’ve always tried to keep it on the side of “Is there a filter?” And I think that’s important. I mean I’m not averse to it. I use it occasionally, but I do generally like to keep it fairly natural. But I’ll tell you one thing, it’s quite difficult to stick to that because… should you follow the trends? I’m my biggest critic so I look at other wedding photographers. 

James [00:05:51] Right OK. 

Carina [00:05:53] “Oh Should I do that?” because perhaps that’s what couples want. But then I think about the couples that have chosen me as their wedding photographer and I think, well no, they’ve obviously seen my website, they’ve obviously seen my work and they’ve chosen me for a specific reason. 

James [00:06:11] So you are being authentic to yourself. 

Carina [00:06:13] Yeah definitely.

That’s the difficulty, you have to be authentic to yourself and your style and you do develop that.

I mean I look back at when I first started wedding photography and I was working with a wedding photography couple (and I’ll give them a shout out – Carruthers and Hobbs in Chelmsford). That’s where it all started. I started work experience with them and they’re fantastic. And I looked at the way that they did their photos, and it was similar to how I do it. You know, they are very natural. And I think presets can also be a distraction. So presets, if you over edit your images it can be a distraction as well and take the focus away from the actual emotions from the day, and also what the couples want. 

James [00:07:07] I think, obviously we’re treading alot of technical ground here. Just to recap for people, Brides & Grooms out there. 

Carina [00:07:12] Sorry, yeah. 

 [00:07:16] No, it’s my fault, it’s my fault. Images that are provided from wedding photographers are not straight out of the camera. 

Carina [00:07:24] No. 

James [00:07:25] I think there’s a misconception that edit means trim.

But we’re talking about the processing or maybe the optimisation, the balance, especially the contrast, making sure that the images pop, are exciting and vibrant.

That’s what we’re talking about with with editing, especially colour and black and white processing. So just to make that clear. 

Carina [00:07:48] Also the finer details, so you might get like a fire alarm. I’m a stickler for things like that. If there’s things like a fire alarm or something that’s not quite right in the image. I spend a lot of time on that and I can sometimes spend a bit too much, I’m like “I’ve got another 500 images to edit, come on Carina!” You have to stop at some point. So it’s not just the colour processing, or black and white. It’s like you’re saying, colour optimisation, trying to adjust the lighting in an image.  

James [00:08:30] Do you have a favourite? Obviously you process colour and black and white.

Some photographers will only do colour. Some photographers will only do black and white. Most do both. So do you have a colour favourite?

Or does it really depend on the subject in the image?

Carina [00:08:45] It really does depend on the subject in the image. If an image warrants it, and the more experience you get, the more weddings, the more couples that you work with, you get a feel for which image is right for a black and white and which is good for colour. And sometimes I’m thinking “oh that looks great in black and white and colour and I’ll offer both” It’s nice to have a selection. And I also think that it might just be my personal preference, but I like to give couples an option too. 

James [00:09:23] That’s awesome. It’s funny you should say that because we recently had my son’s Naming Day and we decided to have that photographed by a semi-famous local wedding photographer. And one of the things that she provided as part of that package was actually a full set of black and white and a full set of colour. So as a bit of a photo geek myself I was able to go through and literally handpick myself which ones I felt resonated.

And I think going through that process myself as not a professional photographer, I think I ended up with about 20 percent Black and White and about 80 percent Colour. So what would you say is your balance on average?

What would people receive? 

Carina [00:10:15] I would say that’s about right. I would say it’s about 80:20 because it just seems to work that way. And I think with wedding photography there’s a selection which is great for black and white. The mood setting, focussing on details or documentary style where something happens and it just looks brilliant in black and white because you’re focussing on what’s happening there and then rather than the colour of the background or the clothes that people are wearing, you are focussing on people’s expressions. It’s definitely about 80:20 I would say. 

Carina [00:10:55] It’s interesting because I was looking back at some of my galleries just to pick out a couple of favourites to prepare myself and I was like “Oh yeah, I have like maybe four colour and then a black and white, and then four colour and then another black and white. And it also helps with… this is going to sound strange… like a visual rhythm of images.

Because especially with a wedding series, you’re not just getting the arrival of the bride, the exchange of rings, the bouquet, you’re getting a whole story and colour and black and white they all set narrative.

So it’s also really important to think on those sides too. 

James [00:11:43] That’s interesting, I like the idea of a flow, that’s really cool! So correct me if I’m wrong but camera technology these days is incredible. And we do have access to some very, very low light capable lenses. But I myself have been in a situation, and this isn’t even recently, this was years ago, where we were asked to film a candle light Christmas ceremony in a dark church. 

James [00:12:12] So as you can imagine this is pushing the limits of technology absolutely. 

Carina [00:12:15] I’m laughing thinking about it!

James [00:12:15] I mean we didn’t have ISO which is the cameras setting, we had gain on video. So it was gained to the max. Everything was maxed out to try and get some kind of image through the murk! And we succeeded, but obviously the capability to manipulate colour in video is not as strong as it is in stills because there’s so much more information recorded in the stills. Have you ever had to go black and white to save an image? Because a grainy looking colour image is horrible, but a grainy look in black and white images can be something magical can’t it? It adds, it doesn’t detract. 

Carina [00:12:55] In my head I knew a question like this was coming because sometimes, you have to resort to black and white because you could potentially be shooting in a Tudor Barn for instance.

In Essex there are a lot of venues which are quite dark interiors. It could be bright summer outside but inside you are going to have dark wood, dark chairs, small windows and not the best lighting. 

James [00:13:36] So nothing is reflecting, it’s just absorbing light, which can look fantastic with fairy lights, but when it comes to photography it is difficult. 

Carina [00:13:49] It is very difficult to manage and when you’re trying to capture precise moments you can’t go back and say “Can you just exchange vows again?” or exchange rings. It’s a one shot and you have to get it! I’ll be the first to admit sometimes that’s a great shot, but I’ve had to whack my ISO right up and shutter speed as low as I can go without getting blur or movement, something like that, and you will get the image and go “Oh I didn’t have to go that high in ISO”, but you have to add sometimes…. 

James [00:14:28] That’s the technical limitation of the gear. 

Carina [00:14:31] Yeah. And black and white can sometimes save you with that. But fortunately like I say you can use it in a positive way. And again it accentuates the narrative and the mood of the picture. 

James [00:14:47] I have seen full galleries that have been shot deliberately with film grain to look stylistic and it does look great. I mean it’s another aspect of that timeless kind of look and feel, so that’s cool. 

Carina [00:15:01] Well, at the moment with editing capabilities there are tools to add grain and add texture when sometimes you think “I’m going to take that away”. But even with the presets that we were talking about earlier, you can use them and obviously there’s a sliding scale of how much you want to use that preset of editing or filter to your image. So if you whack it to the top, it can be very grainy and that’s colour as well as black and white. 

James [00:15:41] Amazing. Well Carina would you believe it. We are almost out of time, that went very quickly. 

Carina [00:15:48] Wow that did go really fast. 

James [00:15:48] But really quickly before we go. How can brides and grooms get in touch with you and see more of your work?

Carina [00:15:54] Well they can visit my Website at www.lovelifebycarina.com and I’m on Facebook, I’m on Instagram, I’m on Twitter and if you search Love:Life Photography by Carina or Love:Life by Carina I’ll probably come up. And also if you’d like to email me it’s Carina_photos@yahoo.com and I think you are putting links on? 

James [00:16:16] We will put links under this video 

Carina [00:16:27] and it’s Carina spelt CARINA. 

James [00:16:27] Well Carina thanks very much for that. It was really, really informative. Really, really enjoyed chatting to you. That was awesome. 

Carina [00:16:36] Yeah me too. Thank you so much for the opportunity it has been great. 

James [00:16:39] It’s been our pleasure. So yeah it’s bye from us for now. 

James [00:16:42] See you later. 

Carina [00:16:43] Bye. 

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