With all the beautiful color in life, why is it that I’m so much more drawn to black and white? Not only in still images but also in video.
Remember Your Subjectivity, Please
As with all forms of art, photography must be looked at subjectively. Why I’m bringing that up is because this post is just about my personal opinions and feelings. It’s about how I see the world of photography.
Black and White, No Distractions
I think we can all agree that most subjects actually shot in photographs actually exist in full living color. People don’t walk the streets in shades of grey. There is rich color all throughout our lives. So why is it that I see black and white images as a more accurate reflection of what’s being captured?
To me, color is a distraction. It adds ‘extra’ information that actually takes away from the pure message of the photo. Color can pull me emotionally in directions that keep me from seeing what is really there.
Emotionally Classic and Timeless
Sometimes color and various color processing can represent an era. It can somewhat add a sense of limiting the photo to a certain point in time. Black and white has a way of making a photograph just as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. 50 years ago!
Built In Nostalgia
For me, black and white photography takes me back to my childhood. I was born in the early ’60s and a lot of the imagery I saw, both photos and movies were black and white. I loved seeing the photography that came out in the ’60s and most of it that I remember seeing was in black and white.
For the early years of my life, my family’s television was a black and white one. No color. For those too young to remember, that doesn’t mean the television itself was black and white. (ours was brown 🙂 ) It means that everything you watch on that TV was in black and white. My first TV I bought after moving out on my own was a 13″ black and white Zenith! I had no problem with that. (kind of wish I had a black and white TV now!)
Then when I got into jazz I loved looking back through historical photography from the early and mid 1900s. That, of course, was all shot in black and white. Amazing captures of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella, Bird, smokey club scenes. Powerful stuff! It had a big affect on me.
Once I got into photography and started to find what genres I was attracted to (portrait, beauty, cultural), I knew that the feeling I got from looking at those old photographs was the kind of feel I wanted my photography to have.
Color is Awesome!
I really don’t have anything against color. I look at other photographer’s color work all the time and am amazed at the beautiful artwork they create. Color works great for them! Every once in a while I’ll even process a color photograph (especially for clients)….
…but then I’ll usually do a black and white version and end up liking it better. 🙂