Saturday, June 16, 2018


The charm around black and white has a lot to do with the past. The old masters of 19th and 20th-century photography shot in black and white and locked it all into timelessness forever. But one should keep in mind that the practice of black and white in the past was also a product of technical limitation. Photos were taken in black and white up until the 1930's and really often up into the 1970's until color film was technically perfected. Technicolor may have been aesthetically pleasing, but far from technically perfect. From that I believe there is a perception that black and white is history; realistic color is contemporary. Or, if you shoot black and white you are creating; if you shoot color you are documenting. B&W is not more difficult than color with digital. This might be true of film negatives, but not so much with digital. I ask myself, though— historically, why wasn’t there a shitload of black and white painters? If B&W is all about paring things down better than color, why didn't Leonardo try a few B&W paintings? My guess is that he and others were satisfied with drawings to fill that need. That leaves me wondering about if photography had started with color (as painting did), would B&W be considered a gimmick rather than pure? As it is, monochrome has always (for better or for worse) made the photo seem more artistic and genuine than color.

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