Back when I was in photo school I had a teacher tell me that if there wasn’t some crazy awesome reason for an image to be in color, if the color wasn’t needed to tell the story, that the image should be in black and white. For some reason this has always stuck with me. Some people think black and white pictures are better left in a newspaper, or even worse, in the past. But I have to tell you, I love me some black and whites. Why do I think they are so important? The reasons are endless but I’ve broken down into three main reasons along with some of my personal images.
1. Bringing in the focus
It can be distracting when you have colors, people, or pattern everywhere in a photo. It can sometimes take a moment to zero in on what exactly you are supposed to be seeing in said picture. Black and white photos can strip away the confusion and help you really see what it is you are looking at.
2. Creates Feeling
The two above images were taken in 2012 in a Nicaraguan jail. Not only are you able to focus on the shapes and textures in this image because of the black and white, but it also creates an atmosphere. You can feel the bare bones of this place. It’s broken, it’s leaky, and it’s trashed. You can almost hear the dripping echos. These black and whites create feeling.
3. Enhances portraits
Looking at portraits in black and white, you may notice things you wouldn’t have normally. For example the freckles on someones nose, maybe the shape of their face. Could be that you are focusing more on their eyes. I almost feel like there is a facet of the personality you can only see if you strip the color from the image.
In this image of my little niece taking a bath, I love seeing the highlights and darks in the water. It’s something you may not have noticed with color. But my favorite part about this black and white is getting to focus purely on her expression. It tells the story of her in that particular moment. Photography always does this, but black and white just brings it up a level.
So, those are a few of the reasons I love black and white images. It helps you to focus and really see, adds feeling that may not have been there, and helps show personality. We’re really just touching on the subject of black and white here. I could go on for days and days. I guess it just means this subject will have to be revisited. I can’t wait for the future black and white images in my life.
Leave a comment telling me why you love black and whites and what they mean to you.