Revealing Black and White Photographs of India by Josef Hoflehner


Austrian photographer Josef Hoflehner‘s portfolio is made up almost entirely of places. His work revolves around capturing cities or, in this case, entire countries in such a way as to bring out some unspoken quality of the place that makes it unique.

In his series on India, a place teeming with that mystical spiritual power often associated with the East, he uses black and white photography to portray tourist landmarks and natural oases alike as haunting, mysterious and solitary places of peace.

As described in his bio:

Each of Hoflehner’s photographs achieves a perfection of composition that seems to defy the possibility that it could ever be seen any other way. Gripping in their ultimate solitude and the unexpected natural beauty they capture, Hoflehner’s photographs take his earthly subject matter to raise it to an almost mythical level, defining the essence of the place.

Here’s a selection of the photographs in his India series, many of them taken at the famous Taj Mahal:














We’re not sure why Hoflehner’s India series is the one that caught our eye — after all, he captured places like New York, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong with the same consummate skill (and also in black and white).

But the images of black birds taking to the sky above the beautiful contours of the mosque captured our imaginations in a way that his Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building photos just couldn’t.

To see more of Hoflehner’s work, head over to his website by clicking here.

(via My Modern Met)

Image credits: Photographs by Josef Hoflehner and used with permission

  • Joe

    high contrast black and whites with huge vignettes.
    I’m not sure revealing is the appropriate word.
    Lovely pics nonetheless

  • Tyler Magee

    Amazing photos. Im just not a fan of square crop.

  • highfructosecorn

    Am I alone in thinking that his other work is more compelling? at least technically, capturing new york city lights at night seems more challenging than the highcontrast/vignette filter used on the india shots.

  • David Liang

    Is that a natural fog, lens haze or light leak in photos 3, 6 and 11?

    I was going to say I like his photos of common shots of india, I rather liked it. But those images with the fog/haze look like they were done in post. Which isn’t inherently a bad thing except in this case I think it’s unnecessary and doesn’t add to the photos.

  • Mack

    WONDERFUL pictures, but the verbal narrative is sodden with cliches’ and patronizing stereotypes.

  • Steven Wade

    I don’t think you are seeing more detail, I think you just happen to see what’s under the water coming through on the building. It just looks like it has more detail, but it really looks like the other junk that’s under the water.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    I guess it’s personal preference, but I dislike how a lot (if not most) photographers are completely oblivious to printing capabilities and tonality. These pictures might look fine to some, but from a technical standpoint, there’s a lot of information that’s just nothing, and that will be coming out as a solid block of black on paper. But maybe Josef wants to achieve that, I hope it’s a conscious decision — for most, it’s probably not.

  • Nate Parker

    I don’t think the fog is added.

  • s

    crush black
    blown white
    huge vignette
    vignette from one corner

    square crop
    bad/overcast weather
    what he is trying to achieve exactly?

  • Jackson Cheese

    Q: “How do you know if a photograph is good?”
    A: “If you like it.”

    You might not like it, but this photographer obviously likes this style, and that’s why they chose it.
    It’s usually a good idea to make images that make yourself happy, and not worry about what anonymous internet comment section critics will say.

  • Burnin Biomass

    I finally decided that the photographer made a purposeful decision in doing this as a style.

    I like a couple of the results from this style, some not as much. However, with many people HRDing away all shadow areas lately, it is kinda refreshing to see some solid blacks in an image.

  • Christopher King

    More time spent on photoshopping than photographing…

  • Adam Cross

    not all to my taste, some look like shots I would take one look at and delete, but that’s me, i’m glad he sticks to his guns and keeps his style consistent throughout his images, more photographers need to do that.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    I’m talking about something completely different than HDR, I’m talking about how the printer will see the photo.

    It doesn’t matter if there’s little information in the black, as long as there is tonality. Otherwise you’ll end up with a solid block of black. Same thing can happen with colors as well (often a problem in newspaper printing).

    Josef would be able to almost be as harsh with the contrast as he is now and still having a picture that would look good in print from a technical point of view (and on screen for that matter). He just needs to keep an eye on the histogram and cut warnings in whatever program he uses. This is what separates good retouchers from bad ones: those who know how to get the look of the picture that they want, and still keep the information in the picture, and those who just cut information in the picture to get the look they want.

    Then again, there’s photographers like Daido Moriyama who are widely successful and who has picture that are almost entirely made out of solid black and solid white. But for him, it’s a conscious decision, which is all I am concerned with in the end.

  • csmif


  • Burnin Biomass

    I understood you were not making a comment on HDR, that was just my thought.

    We mostly agree. its just that you are still questioning if this was badly done, or a style. I just decided its a style. I could be wrong.

  • Vin

    Best photography that black and white i ever seen. so far.