Photographing Pokémon with making the photographs black and white might not be the most obvious choice, but it can really help create atmospheric and striking images. Some Pokémon are really suited to black and white tones, and certain themes, so let’s take a look!
For advice on apps you may want to use for editing on your phone, check out our article here.
In terms of a fairly obvious choice, Ghost and Dark type Pokémon are an easy recommendation for monochrome photos. Seeing haunting ghostly creatures harks back to the black and white horror movies of old, and can create really eerie images.
For this photo of Drifblim, a Pokémon that is said to carry people and Pokémon away on the breeze, I used not only black and white, but two photos layered together to create a scary final image. In colour, there is bright graffiti in this location, switching to black and white hid a lot of that, and gave a lot more darkness overall. It also meant that instead of feeling like the bright sunshine was coming in through the arches on the left, the light almost feels more like a fog creeping in.
Froslass is said to be a missing woman who was lost on an icy mountain, who now returns to civilisation to haunt people. It was a fairly drab day when I took this, the leaves mostly brown and a bit damp looking, switching it to black and white not only fit the mood of Froslass more, but made the location seem more threatening, and a bit Blair Witch!
Cloudy and stormy skies are an ideal candidate for monochrome photos. It can give a much more dramatic feel, and really increase the fear factor of an image. For Zekrom, instead of slightly drab clouds, the black and white has made them look so much more imposing, in colour, it just doesn’t have the same impact.
The clouds feel more detailed, and really work with a simple background and pose for high drama.
Combining two techniques, Bokéhmon, and making a photo black and white, can have another really dramatic impact. We have a full article on how to create the Bokéhmon technique, which is basically mimicking a shallow depth of field in photos.
I’ve edited this photo of Xerneas in both a black and white edit, and a colour edit, so you can see the different moods they create. The black and white photo feels more ominous, whereas the colour image feels almost proud. They work in their own different ways, with the Bokéhmon technique amplifying the focus on Xerneas in different ways.
Cryogonal might not be the most obvious choice for a black and white photo, but the distinct pattern lends itself to it, and with an explosion of light behind it, the black and white feels almost like a snow storm. The lights in focus and in colour, would show that they are simply a trail of Christmas light, instead in black and white I am able to hide that, making it look like it is in motion.
Pokémon that are already mostly black and white also really lend themselves to this style of colour edit. When a Pokémon is monochrome already, black and white serves to highlight their appearance, and keep the focus on them. I’ve used a shiny Ninetales as an example, but Pokémon like Xurkitree, Blitzle, Unown, Mega Houndoom, Zekrom, Reshiram, even Pokemon who are mostly white with a hint of colour like Nihilego will really lend themselves to black and white images.
I also used the Tiny Pokémon technique for this photo, making Ninetails only a couple of inches in height.
Black and white is often more impactful with a fairly simple background. Too much detail can get a little lost or look too busy, but it can really amp up a striking simple look. Chandelure amongst the flames is a good example, while it works in colour too, it becomes a really dramatic ghostly image in black and white. Too much detail can get noisy in black and white, a simple background ensures the focus on the Pokémon and the atmosphere you are creating.