Top 10 Favorite Black and White Photos

I often get asked, “What’s your favorite thing to shoot?”…. And I don’t know that I’ll ever have a straight answer to that question because “It depends”…. but one thing remains true, I love black and white photography.

Back when I was a kid I borrowed my mom’s Nikon EF, along with all her black and white film, probably T-Max or Tri-X…and since mom was buying the film I had no complaints. Many years later, I’m still really drawn to black and white images so here are my top 10 favorite black and white photographs from my collection.

They are:

  1. Bamboo

This shot is special because it’s from one of my favorite places on this planet. Choroní, Venezuela. I partially grew up here, spending my vacations barefoot, without any concept of time. This once sleepy Old Spanish Colonial fishing village and it’s adjacent rainforest, Henri Pittier National Park (Parque Nacional Henri Pittier), are home to one of the most impressive concentrations of flora and fauna in the world. Even with all this diversity, there was one thing that always had my attention…Bamboo! It’s flexible and strong, but the reason it was planted here is what intrigued me. The root systems are these thick masses of very small (but strong) root strands and this was particularly useful for shoring up the outside edge of this insane mountain road that often got really sketchy. I could go on and on about this one road…. which is coincidentally where I learned to drive at 15 but I’ll blog about Choroní on a separate post.

  1. St. Peter’s Basilica - The Last Mass of the Millennium - December 31st, 2000.

This image was shot on a Nikon FM2 probably using TMAX 400 or TRI-X 400 black and white film. The chairs had been laid out for the service and you can see the line of people waiting to enter the basilica. I’ve gone on many trips all over the world since I was a kid and this was one of the most impressive places I’ve ever seen. The grandeur, the volume of people…it was like Disney World for believers…and it produced this picture so I’m grateful for that.

  1. Keep on Walking - Cusco, Peru

What a wonderful image this is for me to enjoy…I love how reminiscent this is of The Beatles famous Abbey Road image. I was standing in the doorway of a store with my camera on and in hand…I had been shooting inside the store and walked out to get fresh air. We had just landed in Cusco (elevation 11,152 ft./3,399 m) and I was still a little loopy from the lack of oxygen. Having grown up and lived at sea level all my life, this was a new experience as a photographer because you don’t have all your wits about you and you still want to make great travel photography.

  1. Inverse Equation - Loop Road - Everglades - West Miami-Dade, FL

Loop Road is way out west in Miami-Dade County and runs about 24 miles in various stages of disrepair. During the rainy season some areas are impassable unless you have the right vehicle. Fortunately for me, this wasn’t a problem…and while stopping to photograph alligators, birds, plants and the like…this was the one image from that excursion that really stood out. There is some trickery to the way this image is presented so look closely and see if you can spot what I did. I thought it was more interesting this way, and way more graphic.

  1. I am the Lizard King! - Key Largo, FL

I smile every time I see this picture for two reasons. The first, the name…because I’m a big fan of The Doors and this dude was all rock n roll. Secondly, he didn’t seem to care that I was getting up in his face, and that made me feel more comfortable he wasn’t going to attack. This bad-boy measured over 6ft, easy, and he was by far the biggest dog on the block. I approached him little by little, inching closer and closer, and he was fearless…at one point even turning straight at me. In the end, it was I who got tired of shooting him and walked away…he never budged. The Lizard King!

  1. Dinner Key Marina - Coconut Grove, FL

Sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t. This night, I wasn’t anywhere near sleepy and decided to go out exploring. I drove out to Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove, pulled out the tripod and went to work. The water and wind were still and the boats barely moved…it was a perfect scene. This was a 30 second exposure.

  1. Chuao, Venezuela - Arriving at port

Every now and then you have to risk your camera gear to get a shot. This was one example where I wasn’t going to let a little rain stop me. We had been walking all day through the Cacao plantation in Chuao, Venezuela and as is customary in the tropics it started to rain in the afternoon. We had taken refuge inside a little bar/store/hut/restaurant/fishing shack when I noticed this scene unfolding. I set my exposure from under cover and quickly ran out in the rain with my camera under my shirt. I got to the sea wall and unsheathed my old Canon 5D and shot this as fast as I could. Sometimes images get away from you, sometimes they don’t. The difference is that you can live with making the effort to get the perfect shot and failing miserably whereas staying safe and keeping my gear dry would have just consumed me with regret. These are the images that justify taking risks…and it will forever live in my top 10 black and white photographs of all time.

  1. Freedom - St. Louis Zoo

I love animals. Big, small, dangerous or harmless…I absolutely admire and enjoy watching them do what they do. Primates, however, are an absolutely different experience. They are in a class all by themselves. These animals are so much like us that it’s difficult to not anthropomorphize what we perceive their feelings to be. It’s without question that most animals have feelings, but to what extent remains a bit of a mystery…at least to me because I’m a photographer not a world-renowned anthropologist and primatologist like Dr. Jane Goodall. Regardless, watching this poor fellow was such a sad moment for me. We didn’t exchange glances, have a deep connection or anything like that…but for a moment while I was framing this image I stopped and just observed him/her through the viewfinder, deeply compassionate about the state of his/her life. I imagine there’s some logical explanation as to why some animals would fare better in a zoo than in the wild, especially those that were born in captivity, but it still saddens me that we lock animals up for our entertainment.

  1. A man and his Bird - Hollywood, FL

Sometimes you’re looking for one specific type of shot when another one completely slaps you across the face and demands your attention. This was a moment when the last thing I was thinking about was animals or anything like this. I’m walking around a body painting competition at the Hollywood Circle Park and this guy happens to be standing next to me. I turned and fired, thought nothing of it and kept going. Once I got home and starting processing my files, making adjustments and deleting the garbage files when I find this gem. I was so moved by light, composition, expressions and the totality of it that it immediately became one of my all-time favorites…and then I made it black and white. For me… WOW. What is it about black and white photography that makes it so special? Anyway…I hope to one day be able to give this man his photo.

And now… the top dog…the big kahuna…the ace of spades…my favorite image ever.

  1. Le Tour Eiffel - Paris, France

This was shot on film back in December 2000. My buddy Orlando and I landed in the afternoon and after deciding on a bar as the logical destination, we stumbled upon this scene…. and I snapped this. I love how the spotlight from the tower faintly shines through the fog, and how the silhouetted leaves in the foreground frame it all up. Can’t really say enough about how much this image has meant to me since I shot it. It was cold, hard to get (really slow shutter) and totally by accident that we walked by the Eiffel Tower on the way to the bar. I knew we were close to it, but we just walked out of the hotel, made a right, and started walking down narrow streets when all of a sudden this appeared. Shot on a Nikon FM2 on Tmax 400 with a 35mm lens. You know…when you know, you know…and of the 25 rolls of film I shot while on this trip…I knew that this frame was in there. This was the only roll of film that I actually separated and tagged once exposed. I knew it had gold inside.

Signing off…

Diego Texera

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