Originally created 08/06/02

Photo style appeals to younger generation

Toni and Bill Fishburne wanted to document Toni's first pregnancy, but they weren't interested in the typical maternity portrait.

"I was looking for something a little more modern, less traditional," Mrs. Fishburn said. She wanted her belly showing, and she wanted it in black and white.

"Black and white has a certain artistic quality," Mrs. Fishburne said. "I feel when you look at a black-and-white photo, you concentrate on the subjects instead of the background or what they're wearing."

The Fishburnes are part of a growing number of people who are choosing to use black and white rather than color for pictures.

"In the last four or five years, we've had more of a demand for black and white," said Barry Koenig, owner of Frank Christian Studio on Central Avenue.

The Fishburnes liked their maternity portraits so much they had more taken after their son, Jordan, was born.

In response to growing interest, several companies have begun offering black-and-white film or portraits, including Sears Portrait Studio.

"Black-and-white photography offers a bit of nostalgia that is also very contemporary," said Steve Glickman, executive vice president of marketing for Sears Portrait Studio.

Kodak reported that amateur and professional black-and-white film sales have increased an average of 21 percent each year between 1997 and 2000. The growth is driven by new users. According to Kodak studies, nearly half of the people buying black-and-white film are 18 to 34 years old.

"It's more the younger generations who want the black and white," Mr. Koenig said.

Those who grew up with black-and-white pictures aren't as quick to use them again.

In the early days of photography, black and white was the only choice. It began to decline in popularity around the mid-1970s, when color reproduction improved and became less expensive. Through the past few decades, black-and-white film was used mostly by professionals.

But black-and-white pictures have become mainstream again, and film is getting easier for consumers to find. Several companies even sell single-use cameras with black-and-white film.

"We sell quite a few of those," said Becky Kershner, an employee of Wolfe Camera for 11 years.

There are two kinds of black-and-white film consumers can use: C-41 and true black-and-white film.

C-41 film is black-and-white but can be processed through a conventional color process and printed on color paper, in the same way as color pictures you get from the one-hour photo lab.

True black-and-white film usually has to be sent off to be developed and is printed on special paper.

"With true black-and-white film, you're going to have better contrast," Ms. Kershner said.

Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or lisalohr@augustachronicle.com.


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