Summer photos evoke a lot of memories for all of us — either in vibrant color or gritty black and white, and whether we’re looking at them from our phones or family photo albums. There’s something about the distinct imagery of trips, experiences, and scenes immortalized in every shot that strongly radiates with nostalgia.
I find that the monochrome memories in a body of work by Munich-based Skander Khlif makes a great example. If you’re in the mood to relieve your own summer memories, especially in your youth, this series shot in Tunisia will surely delight you.
As a documentary photographer, he leans towards documenting life in public spaces to reveal beauty everywhere, whether it’s an intriguing situation, a humorous scene or moving moments. He usually works with geometric shapes and colors to tell his stories, but in this particular series, he still does really well to bring an evocative narrative without them.
Of youth and the seaside
In the last decade, topics and themes centered around youth and youth culture have been especially popular among photographers of all genres and styles.
This series, aptly titled “Growing up Braving the Sea,” provides a documentary approach to the topic and gives it a classic feel. As with many black and white photography projects, it draws our eyes to the way the light, shadows and contrast tell the story and conveys the mood both in each shot and the series as a whole.
Whenever we think of the beach, we immediately think of the many different ways to use colors to paint the energy and emotions of seaside scenes. However, the absence of color still enhanced the feeling of nostalgia in the entire collection.
The ideas of youth as fleeting and summer memories eventually fading are the focus of this body of work, and I think Skander executed it perfectly.
Powerful compositions and effective juxtapositions
Another important detail to note is how shooting in black and white allowed Skander to showcase his knack for powerful compositions. I especially like how he made use of negative space, patterns and angles to lead our eyes to what’s happening in each shot or emphasize the subject in the frame.
His use of contrast is also effective in heightening the mood in the series, and bringing out the shapes and textures in each shot.
I also find his juxtapositions impressive as he was able to draw our attention to subtle comparisons and dynamic scenes — scars that look like ripples. His entire approach actually adds another dimension to the usual summer snapshots or beach scenes, making this series an outstanding example for those who want to give a documentary quality to their portrayal of different seasons.
All photos by Skander Khlif. Used with Creative Commons permission.