Photography was born in black and white. Today, most of what you’ll find in black and white are historical documents and fine art photographs. Regardless, it’s always fascinating to examine the grayscale rendering of familiar images. They take on a dimension which is not visible to the everyday eye, and there lies the esssence, for most of us at least, of black and white.
Purists will tell you that B&W calls upon the viewer to interpret tone and texture and use his imagination because the photo has no real colors, thus offering a “new” vision every time. The attached photo of a vintage locomotive, for example, does not need color to convey its feeling.
Of course, particularly since the digital revolution, there are tons of color images that go beyond the borders of realism and create wildly original visions of their own.
Still, both color and B&W images create ideas and emotions far beyond the basic image itself. And even if there are no absolute rules, B&W images do rely more on composition and geometry than color ones do. One way or another, the debate goes on….
The next time you’re looking for ideas to inject something new into your photography, you should consider black and white. Portraits, landscapes, architecture, they all offer great possibilities.
Go looking for inspiration by looking at works by Ansel Adams, Edgar Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson and many other of the masters. You’ll surely find something worth shooting for. And you’ll definitely end up with photographs that you’ll be proud to show.