Classic, timeless and elegant is how wedding photographer Marissa Levin-Rybalov, co-owner of Heyn Photography in Wall and Fair Haven, describes black-and-white photography. Robbinsville-based wedding photographer Marie Labbancz, whose images are displayed above and on the next page, agrees. “Think of the iconic black-and-white image of Grace Kelly walking down the aisle or Jackie Kennedy sitting at her reception and laughing with Jack,” she says. “Black and white is not just the absence of color. It’s a whole different art form.”
Black and white has always been an important part of wedding photography, says Labbancz, and couples continue to be drawn to it. “They feel that black-and-white pictures are more artistic. They look like something you’d see in a museum,” she says. “Also, black and white reminds couples of photojournalism because they look like something you might find in a magazine. They tell a story without the distraction of color.”
Another thing that draws couples to black-and-white photographs: They stand the test of time. “Our wedding albums outlive us and get passed down in families,” says Levin-Rybalov. “Different filters, say a vintage look, could go out of style, but black-and-white photos have a timeless beauty.”
WHAT’S BEST IN BLACK AND WHITE
Most couples opt to have their big day captured in both color and black and white. When it comes to preserving the memory of a gorgeously hued bouquet, floral centerpieces or bridesmaid dresses, color is key. “If something has beautiful color, for example an invitation with gold leaf, reception detail or a beautiful blue sky with white fluffy clouds, I like to keep it in color,” says Levin-Rybalov. But for emotional moments such as Dad giving away the bride at the altar or the newlyweds’ first dance, black and white lends a special degree of poignancy.
“Black and white really puts the emphasis on the subjects,” explains Labbancz. “The picture has greater emotional impact when you’re focused on the people and not distracted by the colors of the fall leaves in the back- ground, for example.” Portraits of the bride and groom are another opportunity to achieve striking black-and-white images. “There’s a real beauty to the skin in black and white,” says Labbancz.
And brides love the glamourous finished product. “With the correct light- ing, we can make anyone look like a Hollywood starlet,” says Levin-Rybalov. “Not that these photos aren’t beautiful in color, but black and white takes them to a whole new level.”
FINDING A FIRST-RATE PHOTOGRAPHER
“Art is very subjective, so what one person finds beautiful and appealing may not inspire another person,” says Labbancz. She recommends browsing through prospective photographers’ portfolios online. “Ask yourself, ‘Can I see myself in their pictures? Does their work speak to me? Is that what I want hanging in my house or framed on my desk?’” she says. For example, while one pro may tend toward edgy shots, another may favor a more classic look. The trick is finding the style that best matches yours so you end up with a collection of photos you’ll love looking at years from now.
—Kristen Finello Wilson