Last Updated on 10/31/2019 by Mark Beckenbach
All photos by Hengki Koentjoro. Used with Creative Commons permission.
Jakarta-based freelance photographer Hengki Koentjoro has been on our radar for impressive landscape photography shot in minimalist black and white. But, we’d also like to put the spotlight on his other outstanding photography projects, particularly his artful series featuring boys having a grand time playing in the waters of Alor Island in Indonesia.
A lot of the eye-catching, underwater photography we see comes in full color, showcasing the vibrant hues of life under the sea. Color works great for that purpose. But, if you want to try something different or experiment with other visual styles, you can also harness the power of black and white to highlight your composition. For his series, titled The Boys of Alor, Hengki made use of his signature minimalist monochrome aesthetic to document titular subjects as they frolicked in the water. Aside from beautiful shots depicting his subjects mid-swim, the series also features artistic captures that show his great use of underwater silhouettes.
Black and white photography also have the ability to highlight shapes and textures, which work really great alongside the silhouette technique. These snaps show a myriad of textures distinct to underwater photography, such as the reflection of the water ripples from above and the bubbles surrounding his swimming subjects. Together, these visual elements add a layer of abstract artistry to what could be a typical documentary approach.
Lastly, black and white also gives a dramatic suggestion on the depth of the waters. We see the subjects against either a dark or bright background, and the occasional coral here and there. This composition gives a little bit of mystery as to how deep the boys’ watery playground can be.