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Life in Black and White

For today’s DFR, I’m going to veer off-subject a bit into something that is one of my main passions – not only in life, but in the dog show world as well.

If you haven’t guessed already by the title, I am going to talk a little bit about black and white photography.

Recently I had someone tell me that they really enjoyed my pictures, particularly my black and white photos. This really got me thinking.

My initial thought was that I didn’t like the comment. Why would someone say this?

Maybe it was “wrong” of me to react this way, but I couldn’t help thinking that it meant they didn’t like my photos in color. And that got me to wondering if maybe I was missing something.

Finally I think I figured out what they were trying to say. It’s not that they like my black and white photos more than my color photos, but in certain situations, a black and white image can convey different meaning.

For some reason, seeing a photo in its rawest form takes it to the next level, whether for dramatic effect or a sentimental approach.

Exhibit A:

As you can tell by the image above, this photo in black and white is much more dramatic. You just get this “POP” feeling from it. This is why some people – myself included – enjoy a captivating black and white photo from time to time.

You may be asking, “What the heck is going on in this photo?” It reminds me of one of those “playing or fighting?” photos. Well in this case, it is playing! It was taken right after Best in Show, just as the handler’s assistant received a first “hello” greeting from the Standard Poodle, Ch. Penndragon Owain.

I find the image in black and white captivating to look at. It removes the “distraction of color.” It forces the viewer’s eye to concentrate on things in the photo that the eye normally wouldn’t. The more subtle elements of the photo, like shapes, textures and shadows, plus the subject, itself, become readily apparent. They virtually create their own drama that is more than appealing to our eye.

I hope the next photo you see in black and white can make you think differently about what you’re looking at and perhaps perceive its content and meaning in a whole new way.

Let’s not forget, Dogs Freakin’ Rule!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"
  • Lilian Barber July 16, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    I felt I needed to comment on this. I’m a photographer from way, way back —a time when most photos were black and white and color was more or less a novelty. It was very necessary in those days to “make” a picture rather than to just “snap” or “shoot” it. We didn’t have color to add interest, and we really had to visualize the dramatic effects of light and shadow on the scene and how it would impact the end result. My guess is that the person who preferred your black and white photos might be from the same period in time as I am and meant the statement mostly as a compliment.

  • Kayla Bertagnolli
    Kayla B July 16, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Hi Lilian,

    First off, thank you for your comment! I absolutely agree with what you said about the importance of making a picture, or art and not just snapping something because you can, and I hope that through my pictures either in color or black & white they can be seen that way. The person actually was not from the time when the majority of photos were in black and white, but as I said above, I do understand what they meant even if at first felt as if they did not enjoy my pictures.

    Now a days I can see many amateur photographers use effects, including black and white to make their picture look “good”, which is not where I like to go with my photos.

    I have not seen your work, but I can only thank you for you nice words, and your obvious love for photography! -Kayla

  • Steven Johns July 17, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Well i am not a photographer in any way that i feel but something that i would love to get into. From a beginner side of things i see what you are saying about contrast and point of view! i enjoyed your article and would enjoy seeing more of you photography!!!


    PS: :)

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