I have absolutely no preference between colour and black & white photography but tend to use colour more than black & white. However lately I have started to convert more of my photos to black & white. Why? Because it just felt right I suppose. I think that just like any other artistic process choosing to convert your photographs to black & white is ultimately a personal choice and there are no right or wrong answers.
Even though there is no magic formula to determine if a photo should be converted to black & white or left in colour there are a few questions I always ask myself before converting my photographs to black & white in order to help me decide.
Colour Vs Black & White Photography: 4 Questions to Ask Before Converting to Black & White
1. Is the colour interesting and powerful?
I love colour and as I said above most of my photographs are in colour. I believe colour can be a great compositional tool however when there is too much of the same colour, the colour seems flat and it doesn’t grab my attention I would normally convert the photograph to black and white. When the colour is not a strong point in a photograph it can act as a distraction from what I’m trying to convey.
2. Are the light and shadows more interesting than the colour?
I often choose to convert my photos to black & white when I want to accentuate light and shadows. I find that backlit subjects and dramatic shadows are brought to one’s attention quickly in black & white images.
3. Are the textures in the photograph interesting?
Texture is quite a physical concept so we would often be able to describe it as how it feels rather than what it looks like. Textures in a photograph can be very powerful because they add visual interest another dimension to the photograph.
4. What kind of mood do I want to portray?
“… emotions come through much stronger in black and white. Colour is distracting in a way, it pleases the eye but it doesn’t necessarily reach the heart.” ― Kim Hunter
Sometimes I really want the focus of my photographs to be on the emotion of my subject rather than the colours on and/or around it. Black & white lends itself perfectly to this in my opinion because it removes the pre-set emotions associated with colours adding at the same time more contrast and drama to the photograph.
Removing color from a photograph helps the view to focus on the subject’s emotional state.
I find that photos with definite blacks and whites work better in black & white. I often find monochrome photos with lots of wishy washy grays quite boring.
I hope you found this post helpful and that you are able to use some of these tips to decide when to convert your photographs from colour to black & white. Do you have any other tips?
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