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In Celebration of Grainy Black and White Photography

grainy black & white
It’s unfortunate that the renaissance of beautiful grainy photography has come by way of one of the most dividing photography trends in recent memory: Instagramography, also known as the forced nostalgia of imperfect images.

I can’t say I’m completely without guilt, I use Instagram and have fun with it. Which, I suppose, means I’m as guilty of stark raving past times sentimentality as everyone else.

But today I’m taking something of a stand.  I’ve compiled a selection of photos that are nostalgic without being forced into it, photos that are grainy for grainy sake, and the majority of them are so because the film made them that way. Yeah, film, that outdated modality relegated to staunch purists, electrophobes and your grandmother. But I digress.

Today, I’ve chosen the driver to be grainy black and white photography because it heightens the effect.

Not all the photos assembled below are old, not all are really that grainy for that matter, but I guess I’m trying to show that the modern established bar for high-quality photography is something of perfect sharpness is not necessarily the case. I love the look of a good film noir and when you add a film grain all that genre-induced emotion is there for the taking. It resonates really well in good ole black and white too.

Picaso, light painting, from Life Magazine Archives 1949, photograper Gjon Mili

state lake
State Street, by Stanley Kubrick for Look magazine, 1949

Produce & Wares From Shops Along The Sides Of A Typical Backstreet, Western District, Hong Kong Island (1946)
A Typical Backstreet, Hong Kong (1946) Source.

film noir metro
By lomokev.

No source

No source.

paris 1948
Paris in the Fog, 1948, by Yale Joel. From Life Photo Archive.


Seoul at night.

jackson pollack
Jackson Pollack

joshua tree
Joshua Tree, Nico Crisafulli

golden gate bridge
Golden Gate Bridge and Sutro Tower. Source.

grand central
Grand Central Station 1947 – Paul Himmel

catherine deneuve
A young Catherine Deneuve


Francisco Mata Rosas – by Gordo Volador

42nd Street as Viewed from Weehawken
Andreas Feininger – “42nd Street Seen from Across the Hudson”


Tuscany in the rain

San Gimignano, Tuscany, 1965 by Wolf Suschitzky


big surprise
The Big Surprise


If you liked these images you should check out my Vintage Paris photos post. The images out of Paris at the turn of the century were shot in much the same style, and very moody.

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