Friday, March 12, 2010

on black & white images

I cannot get enough of these kids! For those of you who know me, you'll also notice that little miss Hannah is conspicuously missing from this series. I happened to land at their house smack dab in the middle of her nap. But no worries, she will undoubtedly be featured soon.

It was brought to my attention last night (by a super awesome
someone) that I've been tending towards black and white in my photos. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, just an observation. And it was interesting that it was brought up last night because yesterday, my sister-in-law asked me for a colour version of a photo of Joshua that I had originally sent only as black & white. And it made me go, "Hmmm... why colour? The black & white version is obviously superior." (Just kidding Kelly!) But it did tweak something in my brain that perhaps other people don't swoon over black & white the way I do.

So... why all the black & white? I couldn't put my finger on it immediately but after mindful consideration, I realized a few things.

1.) I think colour can overwhelm the eye and draw a viewer's attention away from the intended purpose/message of the photograph. The emotion/action of the people in the image can easily escape a viewer's eye if all they see if the hot pink Barbie convertible in the foreground.

2.) A black and white image depends more strongly on the content of the image - how an image is "constructed" becomes more important - all the things you think about in every art form: lines, form, light, texture, shape and space.

3.) Most importantly, a black and white image is timeless. The colour choices of clothing, decor or even post-processing provide clues as to when an image was taken. Strip away colour and you're left with the pure emotion of an image. The viewer's mind fills in the details and the image instantly becomes a more personal experience. For example, the image of Rhianna below was originally her showing me her new shirt. The black and white image is not about Rhianna's new shirt, it's about Rhianna - her beautiful spirit and crazy energy. Take out colour and it's a documentation of childhood exuberance. It's a piece of childhood that potentially engulfs the viewer in nostalgia. To me, a black and white photograph is instantly relate-able.

4.) And that's why I tend to black & white, in case you were wondering. :)

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