The Timeless Appeal of Black and White Photography
Color will always have a place in our hearts as Lomographers. Imagining the world without it seems impossible and more importantly, bland. But on the other end of the spectrum lies a side of photography that will remain relevant until the end of time — black and white photography.
Shooting in black and white for photographer masters like Avedon, Cartier-Bresson, Capa, and Adams was a choice. They picked that medium for the purpose of expressing their art and voices. It wasn’t just because they were limited to at the time but it was a conscious effort on their part. And that belief rings true up to now.
Black and white photography can be considered timeless for a few reasons. One of those is that shooting without color makes us appreciate the process of photography even more. It makes us concentrate on other aspects of the image we are about to make. In a way, it’s sort of an exercise in visualizing the image and being awake during the process.
Another reason is that black and white will always be synonymous with the words classy and classic. Images shot in monochrome have that appeal to them that color sometimes can’t compare to. The images you shoot in b&w has more mystery. They have depth. Color photographs tend to feel dated, distracting, and they can reveal too much.
Monochrome brings back memories that can sometimes go beyond visuals. Anyone who has experienced developing b&w films will remember the feeling of bringing chemicals to life on photo paper. The smell of the chemicals, the familiar glow of the red light, and the motion of mixing, agitating, and working on baths are all too important for those who love black and white photography. It’s a memory that never escapes you.
Another thing we can’t possibly forget about shooting in b&w is that it’s an invitation to be inspired. Whatever your style is or the subject you’re photographing, monochrome has a way of making you think about it in a more creative way. When the distraction of color becomes too much, you use other visual elements to make your image pop out. It's also a form of a challenge for you as a photographer. Monochrome makes you think and contemplate on the image that's right in front of you. When color fails to express what you feel, shooting in black and white can make more sense.
Shadows, lighting, contrast, texture, shapes, patterns — these are just some of the many things you can incorporate in your black and white work. Maybe these are what the masters of photography thought of when they were shooting their iconic photographs. Somewhere, sometime, they thought like you and looked at black and white as this timeless vessel in which they could pass their legacy with. That connection alone is enough reason for us to continue shooting in black and white.
Monochrome photography is timeless, that even the digital world embraces it. Despite all the R&D invested in order to achieve more accurate color fidelity in digital photography, there are still companies that develop specialized medium format digital backs and full-frame digital cameras which only captures images in black and white. This gives you an idea of how this form of photography is still relevant in the digital landscape we have today. Analogue or digital, black and white photography is here to stay.
How about you? What do you like about black and white photography? Share your thoughts with us down in the comment section below!
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