Sometimes the best photography subjects are right in front of us – something or someone you see everyday, but don’t think about as a subject. We see and interact with people everyday, but may not think of the human body as subject of our photography. The challenge this week is the Human Body shot in black and white.

We’ve had portrait challenges all year, so you should be accustomed to asking people to be subjects. This challenge differs significantly from portraits, however.  Portraits tell us a story about a person, or capture some essence of personality – we learn something about the subject in a portrait. This challenge is about form of the human body, not the person.  There is grace and beauty in every human body. Your challenge is to capture that in black and white.
The examples for this challenge don’t have any faces, but that doesn’t mean you can’t include a face in your shot. Any part of the human body can be used, but part of the challenge is to get you thinking about more than just faces.  Faces are fine, as long as you don’t create a portrait.
Twice the Power//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
For this challenge you will need to focus on the principles of black and white photography: contrast, shape, tonality, texture, lines. Lighting can play a key role in this challenge. The shot above uses a simple black background to make the arms stand out. The shot is also a good example of contrast, in both the technical aspects of the shot and the subjects. Also notice the depth of field. The adult arm at the back is slightly out of focus. Depth of field and lighting are also the key elements of the shot below.
The shot below uses contrast, texture and tonality with strong composition to create a dramatic mood. The same shot in color might convey something completely different.

You also need to make decisions about how much of the body to include in the shot, and how much to leave out. The examples all show a limited view of the human body. The first shot above uses perspective and depth of field to limit how much of the body you see, but the other examples use composition to focus on specific areas of the body.
Hands Fidgeting From Boredom

You can choose to show the entire body, or one aspect or body part. How you frame the shot is entirely up to you, just be sure to focus on the form of the body. That can also include abstract representations of the human body.

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsA word of caution – Flickr is a great place to find examples, but be aware that searching for “human body” will return nude photography. There are many stunning black and white nudes on Flickr that show the natural beauty and form of our bodies, but there also photos that some people may find offensive. Flickr does have a safe search feature to filter out nude images for those of you that don’t want to see nude photography.

Also, nude photography is fine for this challenge, but be aware of the guidelines for the sites where you share your photos. Facebook generally doesn’t allow nude photos.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.


About Steve Troletti

I'm a Location Scout, Editorial, Nature, Wildlife and Environmental Photographer based in Malibu, California. I specialize in Nature and Urban Nature photography including Infrared Landscapes. The Bulk of my work takes place in the Los Angeles, California area, Greater Montreal Region, Canada, Switzerland, France and Varese in Northern Italy. Ethical wildlife photography is the main priority and focus of my work. A minimum disturbance of the animals, their habitat and the environment is my top priority. This applies as much to total wilderness areas as it does to urban nature environments. Ongoing education of environmental issues and building awareness for the protection of wildlife and wilderness areas around the world is what drives me to document the beauty that surrounds us.