There can be n number of reasons for doing a particular thing in a particular way. The same applies here as well.
When I started clicking photographs, I did it because of the sheer fun of pointing a camera towards everything and just pressing the shutter button. But with time this random habit became much more deliberate and critical. I had no clue when was the first time I converted a colour photograph into black and white. I guess that happened randomly. But with time as I became much more thoughtful in approach, it started becoming second nature for me. I think it happened mostly because of the exposure that I got at the very beginning of my photography career. I was exposed to the great works of photographers like Prabuddha Dasgupta, Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, Arnold Newman, Diane Arbus, Sally Mann, Peter Lindbergh, Robert Capa and the lights of Yousuf Karsh.
So, you can understand how hard it was for a teenager to be left untouched by the works of these legends. To now, I am so much attached to the works of Sally Mann, Lindbergh & Prabuddha.
I just try my best to encapsulate the innermost sensibilities of human beings in my work. Doesn’t matter who the person is, I find it utmost important to understand the psyche, fears, insecurities, and hardships of the person I try to shoot. Although, very rarely I get to shoot such intense people. But whenever I do find such people who are ready to invest that much amount of time into a particular shoot, I try to get the best out of that person.
These are the few basic reasons why I consider black and white photography to be the best
1. Black and White Is Timeless
One of the basic reasons why I think black and white is more powerful than colour is that black and white is untouched by time and space. This is because we still think of black and white as being a throwback to the photographic past. Of course, it is in terms of black and white was much more prevalent before color, but this is still a great reason to shoot black and white. Black and white do have that capability to pass through the wear and tear of time and space.
2. It Highlights Shape, Form, and Pattern In The Image
I tend to focus a lot more than I used to on the elements in the frame, both in terms of their shape and form, but also how they relate to one another. You feel like there is a world to explore when you see connecting elements in the foreground and background. Again, colour would be distracting here. Black and white simplify the ability to see these elements and play with them.
3. Black and White Provides Versatility
Black and white, no doubt suits almost any type of photography. Portraits, landscapes, architecture, fine art. Not only that, it’s a medium that adapts really well to a wide variety of lighting situations. Whereas colour photography often works best on sunny days or in brightly lit studios/conditions. But quite contrary to that, low light actually adds more depth and mood to black and white photos, which is completely absent in colour photography.
4. No Distractions At All
I find that at times colours can be quite distracting in some images and can take away the whole focus of the viewer from the images. I do a lot of portrait work and find that taking the colour out of an image lets the subject speaks for itself. It’s raw, it’s honest, it’s without any decoration and that allows a viewer to peep into the actual personality of the person in the frame.
PS – Not every personality type looks great in black and white. There are people out there as well who will look much better in colours. But that’s my viewpoint on black and white.
5. Tonal Range
I am in deep love with the amount of tonal range that black and white images can have. We are living in a world where people talk too much about the millions of colours a TV and monitor can produce. At the same time, they forget that there is such a variety of what can be achieved in a black and white photo. Black and white sound so boring, but the fact is that there are so many shades in between, that most of us miss most of the times.
These are a few of my reasons why I love shooting in black and white. Off course, the black and white vs colour debate is a very personal one. Basically, it depends on the sensibility of the person concerned. I know a lot of people who are black and white fanatics and then there are a majority of people who love the vibrancy of colour photography as well.
What you do have to say about this? Whether you like black and white or Colour. What exactly do you like about your preference?
Have you experimented much with black and white photography? Interested to hear your thoughts in comments below.
A big thanks to all the readers.
I hope this has been helpful. Any questions? Please ask away. I’m not just a photographer, but also loves to write and share my views on the subject and loves to chat and discuss. Feel free to reach out anytime.
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