The Mind behind Monochrome, Animoto’s New Pro Photography Style

Moira West


Award-winning travel photographer and head of Animoto’s Photography Department, Sally Sargood, brought her flair and experience to the table when she helped create our new style, Monochrome. We sat down with Sally to ask her about the inspiration behind Monochrome and her experiences shooting as a travel photographer.

First of all, what is Monochrome?

It’s a style that converts all your photos and video clips to black and white, so you don’t have to do it yourself before uploading to Animoto. It also makes the video more consistent, without differences in color. Sometimes it’s hard in color to get all your photos to match, whereas if you can convert to black and white, everything matches right away.

What was your reason for wanting to develop Monochrome?

I had made a video, but I wanted everything to be in black and white. I had to convert the photos to black and white, and then convert the video to black and white and re-render it. Talking to photographers at tradeshows, I’d hear they were experiencing the same difficulties. I thought it would be great to have a style that did it for you and saved you hours and hours of work.

What kind of black and white is it?

We made the decision to keep it a neutral black and white so you can adapt to different styles and different lighting situations. If I’d gone for a high contrast, it might to be too extreme; and if I went in the other direction, there would be the same issue. I figured a neutral black and white would be more forgiving.


When would you recommend using Monochrome?

I think it works best for documentary-style photojournalism. But it’s so versatile. It could be used for a wedding, I think, if they don’t have time to color correct. It’s ideal for anything.

What types of photos will convert well to Monochrome?

Pretty much anything! You’ll get the best results from a situation that’s not too grey. If there are a lot of neutral tones in the scene, there will be less black and white in the photo. If you can see contrast, that’s where the black and white will stand out.

What do you like about photos in black and white?

The aesthetics of it. Also, when you’re trying to tell a story or documenting something, I find black and white works better. Color can be distracting, but black and white lets the story come through.

What are your favorite subjects?

I love travel photography. My family doesn’t travel a lot, so when I’m away from home, I like to capture the essence of where I am to share it with my family and friends. I want to capture the taste and smell of a place — that sort of thing.


I’m much more of a streetscape than a landscape or vista kind of photographer, though. I like to take photos of quirky things rather than monuments, like daily life in a city or a country. I loved the colors in Vietnam and Cambodia. The people and culture of those countries were much easier to transcribe through photography. And of course I love New York! I live here now, but when I first visited in 2001, it was really the start of me being a travel photographer.

Sally Sargood is Animoto’s Customer Owner of Photography, and co-designer of the Monochrome video style. You can find more of her beautiful travel photography (in black and white and in color) on Instagram.