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July/August 2014
VOL. 5 - ISSUE 2

featured article
you hired us!
cool shoots
stock? have a look
in the know
where we are

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About Us:

Deborah Brown & Associates is an agency providing outstanding photography services to the graphic design and corporate communications communities.
For more information, please click here.



300 East 85th Street
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New York, NY 10028
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Hi There!

What does black and white photography "say" to you? Retro? Fine art? Photojournalism? Working within a shoestring budget?


Read this month's newsletter to see what the DB&A photographers have to say about it. Your perception may just undergo a change.


After reading the article, don't forget to scroll down to see Yasu Nakaoka's stylish photos for Tokyo's BVLGARI Hotel (You Hired Us); Amos Chan's still-lifes (yes, he shoots still- lifes) (Cool Shoots); and Bill Gallery's all-natural, in-office stock photos (Stock? Have a Look).


And keep updated about the DB&A photographers' projects by looking at In the Know. As always, to see where the DB&A photographers will be (Where We Are This Month), keep scrolling down!




Deborah Brown, BWA (Black and White Advocate)                      



The Meaning Of Black and White 

For about 3 minutes back in the early 80's, I had a career as a photographer. I had taken some photography courses at the School of Visual Arts here in Manhattan, and, after shooting a lot for myself, managed to land a few jobs--mostly shooting at outdoor sporting events. In black and white. Always black and white.


Why b&w, you might ask? Well, there were a couple of reasons. First of all, I didn't know very much about shooting color film. I had only taken black and white courses at SVA, after all. Also, I really liked getting into a darkroom and processing and printing my film after the shoot.


I loved the jobs I was assigned, but my career came to an abrupt end when one of my (two) clients asked me to shoot an event in color. Let's just say, after that job, I wouldn't have hired me again either.


Last week, while I was doing a very belated spring cleaning, I found the boxes with all my negs and prints from back then. It started me thinking about what a pity it is that my photographers so rarely get assigned to shoot in black and white anymore (or even convert their digital color photos to b&w). 


And why is that? What is it about b&w that doesn't work for corporate shoots? Is it because even less-than-perfect color digital images are easy to "fix?" Or does it have more to do with the message that b&w imagery sends?


With those questions in mind, I asked each of my photographers to send me a b&w image that was shot on assignment and explain why they thought that client asked for b&w. Here's what they came up with (click on the image for a larger view): 


Robin Moyer (Hong Kong): In conjunction with an NGO, Ocean Recovery Alliance, I contributed a chapter of B/W photographs for a book titled Water Margin: Hong Kong's Links to the Sea.  The chapter was supposed to be ten images shot while traveling by boat and car along Hong Kong's 733 km of shoreline. We felt black and white would be an effective way to draw out the readers' imagination, as most of the book was in color and aimed at schools in Hong Kong. Rather than the few days I estimated it would take to make the ten shots, I kept exploring off and on for several months, and we ended up expanding the chapter to 24 pages and 33 images. These pictures were shot in medium format digital (color) and converted to black and white.



View from Tsingyi Island, the Western Harbour �2012 Robin Moyer

Yasu Nakaoka (Tokyo): I shot a set of black and white photos a while back for the BVLGARI Hotel & Restaurant here in Tokyo. It was for a section in their web site called "our people" showcasing their staff and hospitality.


They usually ask for black and white photos to keep their image stylish. The only time I shoot color for them is when I photograph their chocolate or food for catalog purposes.  


Every now and then I get art directors working on annual reports requesting b&w images because it looks stylish and the lack of color gives it a cleaner look.


 �Yasu Nakaoka 


Jeff Corwin (Seattle): I think that b/w becomes an option for a lot of different reasons and not always the right ones.  In the early days of Northrop Grumman, its brand was directed by a guy who never saw the photography as anything but black and white for all the right reasons.  In Les Daly's mind, for their industry and their product, to shoot color would have been forcing a component where it didn't belong.  Most everything Northrop made was comprised of metals, composite materials, dramatic shapes and textures, so black and white imagery was the only way to go.  Sure, there were people in the photos, but a tiny amount of flesh tone didn't add that much and as he liked to say, IT'S ABOUT OUR PRODUCTS.

� Jeff Corwin

Bill Gallery (New England): Clients tend to specify b+w for two reasons: its legacy of credibility and its fundamental visual simplicity.  Color is usually about itself, it rarely engages beyond catching the eye; b&w tends to go straight to the idea.


This shot was part of NeXT Computer's first (and last) corporate marketing presentation which I shot 100% on Tri-X film.   The black and white was specifically approved by Steve Jobs.


� Bill Gallery

Rosanne Olson: (Seattle): Here are two images from an annual report I did for Alaska Airlines (I did several). They were all b/w--that was their "look."


� Rosanne Olson

Ron Wu (Chicago): USG Corporation asked me to shoot new photos of Jim Metcalf, the CEO. They wanted a variety of looks for their library.

No, they did not ask for it in b&w; I gave it to them anyway along with the color shots they had requested. The b&w photos just looked cleaner to me.

� Ron Wu

Jon Love (Sydney): This shot (part of a series) was done for a mining infrastructure company, The Mac in Queensland, to show their housing, catering and sport facilities for large operations. The B&W version was used as a panorama on the head office glass paneling via a translucent technique, that showcased the shot by etching it somehow on the glass.

� Jon Love

Neal Wilson (UK): Designers/clients in my experience find b&w portraits are stronger.


� Neal Wilson

They say everything old becomes new again. Maybe we should start an old/new trend shooting b&w. I cut my teeth on black and white photography and so am slightly biased in favor of seeing more of it. "Stylish," "cleaner," "stronger," "credibility," "capturing the reader's imagination." Sounds like a lot of good reasons to try out black and white photography on your next shoot. What do you think? 


click here to reply

hiredyou hired us!
Yasu Nakaoka


Our Tokyo-based photographer, Yasu Nakaoka, has shot everything from hotel rooms to home-made chocolates for the Bvlgari hotel and restaurant. In keeping with the subject of this summer's enewsletter, click here to see a series of b&w images he has shot for them. FYI, he does shoot color for them, but only for their food (and chocolates) catalogs.



coolshotsvideo title
Amos Chan


Over the years Amos Chan has worked for several pharmaceutical clients shooting patients, doctors, patients with doctors, patients with doctors in hospitals...you get the picture. But one thing you may not know about Amos is his ability to shoot still life--medical implants and instruments, being a part of that arena for him. Click here to see a new (for you) aspect of Amos's work. 

stockvideo title
Bill Gallery


You know how hard it is to find an interesting, unique stock photograph of an office situation. New England-based photographer Bill Gallery  has a collection of candid office shots which are always so beautifully composed. Whether you need that or industrial, bio-tech, medical, or travel images, have a look here to see all of Bill's unique stock photography.




in the know




Robin Moyer has promised an edition of platinum prints to come out later this year of his beautiful work for the NGO, Ocean Recovery Alliance. Part seascape, part industrial and part photojournalism, the images were all shot along the Hong Kong coastline. Beautiful!



Rosanne Olson has made a name for herself photographing women (see her book called This is Who I Am). Rangefinder Magazine will be featuring her work in an upcoming article about working with "real women." Stay tuned for more info.

where we are this month

        Jeff Corwin (based in Seattle)                       



Do you need a photographer in:

USA: Chicago; Seattle; NYC; Boston; New England; San Diego             

Europe: UK; Munich             


Asia: Japan; Hong Kong    


South America: Brazil


Other: Australia             



We're there!