Black-and-white pictures are abstract by nature. They’re not faithful reproductions of the world as we see it. Because it is abstract, the photographer is invited to capture the scene in a unique way, with a vision that is dissimilar to—and perhaps even the opposite of—reality. It’s not so much about what the scene is, but about how we see the scene through a divergent eye, and how we can express that to the viewer. It’s a timeless approach to fine-art photography.
The strength of color photographs is color, but it’s also its weakness. When color works within a color theory—perhaps contrasting or harmonious—it can create an especially dramatic or beautiful picture; however, when the colors within an image work against each other, it can be a distraction. B&W photos remove the distraction of color, allowing the viewer to see the important elements without color fighting for their attention—it’s the art of subtraction.
Black-and-white photography is about light and shadow. It’s about contrast. It’s about shape. Texture. Pattern. Space. Emotion. Those are very important elements to color photography, too, but they’re even more critical to B&W pictures. Mastering monochrome will make you a better photographer, even for your color work.
Join myself and Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry as we finish our discussion of B&W photography in-depth on SOOC Live this Friday, August 25th, at 10:00 AM Pacific Time, 1:00 PM Eastern. I’ve included the video below so that you can easily find it on Friday. Also, if you haven’t uploaded your photographs captured with the Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodak T-Max P3200, Ilford HP5 Plus 400, and/or Acros Film Simulation Recipes, be sure to do so ASAP (click here)! There’s not much time, so don’t delay. I hope to see you on Friday!
Also, if you missed our the initial discussion of black-and-white photography, check it out below: