Vince Alongi: Capturing Street Photography Scenes in Black and White

All images and words by Vince Alongi. Used with permission.

On black and white photography, I feel you can create a timeless view of a scene that strips away the unnecessary such as coloring of clothing, mute styles and really capture the players in the story. In a landscape or cityscape, that will put a focus on the structures and mood. To express your vision in black, white and shadows it can really leave an impact on feeling rather than getting caught up in tones of colors.

Though I don’t approach a situation looking to render this in b/w, it comes out in the processing stage. I’m starting to train myself, however, to view the world as if I’m colorblind. I enjoy the noirish feel in visual arts- there’s a romantic, edgy, classical feel when someone can capture and create a vision without color being the focal point. I strive to be part of that, hopefully produce images that will give people pause.

Editor’s Note: in a previous version of this article, we misspelled Vince’s name. We apologize for this.

The inspiration to create through photography emanated with my father, decades ago in the 70’s. He was an artist- and also practiced photography. He set up a dark room which left we wondering about the magic behind the process – from snapping a picture to producing a print. I was young, unfortunately that tailed off as we got older. Today, I find myself wondering how he would view what I’ve captured. He is no longer with us, so to be carrying on artistic expression is important to me as I’m the bridge between my family’s past and future. It’s become a duty that’s part of the passion.

Naturally, with children of my own now, I’ve integrated them in my practice of photography. Capturing them on the sly, positioning them or experimenting with techniques, I’ve introduced them to an art form that I love. Hopefully down the road they’ll have an appreciation for being part of it along with being able to draw on their childhood in looking at themselves at young ages. I’m heavily inspired by creating a view not only of my own tastes, but to archive their youth. If I’ve done it right, those lines will intersect.

The importance of black and white to me is that it takes us back to the genesis of this art form. It’s getting back to the basics- whether it’s through film or digital photography. We have the convenience and technology to toggle between color and monochrome, so it’s ironic that it’s become an effort and discipline to capture life in a form that was the sole option when this art form was being born.

We’re learning to be backward-compatible, as film is on the rebound. That there is an emphasis on this nostalgia only adds to the appreciation for me. I will endeavor to take up film and learn the nuances, much in the way it was learned decades ago. To the future of the art universe, this will help and perhaps force the younger generation learn properly on light and shadow. We could all use a little more analog in our life across the board.

My black and white, as well as color images can be viewed on Facebook: @VincentAlongiPhoto, or Instagram: @alongi_photo.