B&W or Colour photography


Whenever I think about a famous image in photography, it always seems to be a photograph in Black & White. An example would be the iconic photo of James Dean; walking lonely in a wet & dreary New York City. Now ask yourself this question…Would the same photograph of James Dean shot in colour, same composition, same lighting etc, have the same visual impact on the viewer? Would the image be as famous as it is today, if the photo was shot on colour film?…Of course it wouldn’t! On the flip side; if we were to shoot a tropical Beach landscape in B&W; would the image convey the idea of warmth & calmness?…No.


Why wouldn’t the photo of James Dean walking NYC work in colour? I believe it all comes down to how our brains process the information that is received from our eyes. With a colour image you’re receiving all the information of the Red’s, Blue’s, Cyan’s & Magenta’s. Eliminate all this information your eye’s & the brain only needs to process dark & light tones…no colour. This leaves our brains to process the other information in the image. We can see more easily expressions & emotions in people, lines and textures are more defined & apparent. It’s these details that would otherwise be masked by colour.

This isn’t an argument for or against Black & White or Colour. Noir is this article saying that you should shoot in B&W. As a photographer it’s all about the message that you want to convey to the viewer at the end of the day.


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