Over the past year I’ve been drawn to black and white images more and more.

When I was first starting out many years ago, black and white was a way for me to save a photograph that didn’t quite work out: maybe the focus was slightly off, or there was a distracting element in the background. Put a black and white filter on it, add a bit (or a lot) of grain, and voila! A snapshot is magically transformed into an artful image.

Of course, it’s not as simple as I make it sound – it never is. And while I still use black and white a lot for pictures where the lighting was tricky, or to highlight an emotion without the distraction of colour, over the years of being a photographer I came to realise that the simplicity of black and white is deceiving.

It’s more tricky to take a photograph that works great in black and white than one might think. You still need good – or interesting, dramatic- light. You still need a great composition. But more than anything there needs to be that extra something, a look, a motion, a moment that elevates a picture that’s okay in black & white to a picture that’s artful.

So on New Year’s Eve I’ve set out to try and capture our (fairly lame) fireworks and sparkles effort and tried to elevate them using black and white. I love colour images of people playing and writing with sparklers, but we were in almost complete darkness by then so it wasn’t going to work. These three were my favourites from a bunch I took. Sasha, my son, was concerned he was going to burn himself and I love how the pictures captured his cautiousness around sparklers here :)

These are not as artful as I’d imagined them in my head, but they are a great snapshot of my son at this stage of his life. Sparklers were a big part of my own childhood New Year’s celebration and it’s a wonderful memento for both me and my son to have.

I’m Antonina Mamzenko – a natural light newborn, baby and family photographer based between London and Surrey. I specialize in creating candid, natural family photographs with zero cheese and no posing. I work all over London and Surrey, including Cobham, Esher, Thames Ditton, Richmond upon Thames, St Margarets, Twickenham, Teddington, Hampton, Kingston upon Thames, Surbiton, Kew, Chiswick, Putney, Fulham, Wimbledon, Holland Park, Kensington, St John’s Wood and Hampstead. Find more information about my photography sessions or get in touch to check availability and book your family photoshoot.