Colour Vs. Black & White Photography
Question: Colour photography or black and white photography? Answer: Depends.
Depends on what? On several things.
Oh, come on. That’s not very helpful.
Okay, okay. It depends on what and why.
What you’re photographing and why you’re photographing it. And yes, it often boils down to personal style and preference.
First, A Little Context
Of course, from the very beginning, all photography was monochrome—or, in colloquial terms, black-and-white. And it continued to dominate even when colour film was accessible. There were two reasons for this. On the one hand, colour in photography was much more expensive; on the other hand, black-and-white photography provided the “classic” look.
Explored as early on as the middle of the nineteenth century, colour in photography required extremely long exposures—up to days for camera images—and technicians could not prevent the colour fading shortly after white-light exposure.
James Clerk Maxwell, using the three-colour-separation principle (blue, green and red), perfected the first permanent colour image in 1861. In little over a hundred years, the first “instant colour film” was introduced by Polaroid giving one an immediate, complete colour image only a minute after taking the picture. Since then, colour in photography has become the popular choice.
While black and white or colour in photography might boil down to personal preference, there are some reasons for choosing black-and-white images over the more fashionable colour images.
When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!” (Ted Grant)
Black & White Over Colour in Photography
There are at least three reasons for photographing in black and white instead of colour.
1. When beginning the photography experience.
A newbie photographer will benefit from using black and white as colour often distracts one from developing a feel for shape, form and the use of light.
2. When looking for a distinct high-class feel.
This is especially true for portrait photography. Black and white tends to even out skin tone, making blemishes less conspicuous.
3. When photographing in overcast weather.
A dull, dreary day is often a nightmare for photographers, giving colour images a lifeless, washed-out feel. Using black and white in such circumstances keep the forms and shapes crisp and vivid.
While there are undoubtedly more reasons, that’s sufficient for me 😉 You can read a little more on the subject here at PhotographyVox.
Colour is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive.” (Elliot Erwitt)
For over a decade now, Lorna Kirkby has enjoyed the thrill of capturing special of moments for her clients. She specialises in memorable baby, maternity and newborn photography, and it would be her absolute pleasure to serve you.
If you have any questions, drop her a line via the contact form.