Most of the times I show my family and friends my monochrome pictures, I get a “why black and white?!” with a tone of disappointment. I reply half-heartedly with “I like how it looks” or “I just like it that way” because it’s a pain to explain.
I don’t have an issue with their reaction. This post isn’t for complaining. It’s my own response to that reaction that prompted me to this write. I want to give a true answer to that question. “Why black and white?!”
When I first started taking pictures – that would be around 8 years ago – my answer would have been “because it’s cool!” At that time, I knew nothing of photography. I just liked going out and taking pictures but I also preferred black and white back then – maybe not as much as now but still. The reason I did was because I had the childish idea that black and white photography is professional photography and if my pictures were in black and white they’d also look professional. man, I’m shrinking in my seat writing this down! it’s embarrassing!
Anyways, time moves on and my perception of things change as well as my understanding of photography in relation to myself. Now, at this stage (and only at this stage, because in a few years I will have learned more about myself and photography and I will have achieved yet another level of awareness. we always evolve.) I realize that black and white photography is what I’m ultimately learning photography for. I feel that no matter how uninteresting the subject is or how remote it is from myself, if I see it in black and white then that image in my head ends up representing a part of me most of the time.
I found that stripping a photograph of its colors is adding value to every pixel in it. Everything within the frame means something more than how my eyes naturally see it. And eventually it forms a bond with something in me, around me or makes me recall a certain life experience… whatever it does, it is ultimately an unseen thread of connection between the visible photograph and the invisible me. And that’s the kind of photography I want to one day produce. a black and white photography that touches other people from the inside and stirred them somehow.
Right now, I’m as far away from that as heaven and earth are but that’s the goal and that’s why I prefer black and white photography. Actually, I put it out in simple terms. This is one of those personal feelings that are hard for me to explain. I did my best though. And I hope it makes sense to even one reader. I’d be satisfied with that.
I only recently started getting into photography seriously so I don’t know many black and white artists but my favorite so far is Vassilis Tangoulis. If you don’t know him already, you should check out his work on 500px.