I need to apologize.
Yesterday I posted a black and white photo on my Instagram account, something I didn’t really get in the habit of doing until this year. After waking up this morning realizing the extent of my sins, I’m here to apologize for what I’ve done.
I used black and white for no reason.
I know what you’re thinking: “Who cares?”
Well, this big, beautiful green wall cares.
Here I am, on my homepage even, claiming to be a photo-documentarian, and yet I took a defining quality of the location and tossed it in the garbage.
Am I against black and white photography? No, absolutely not. What I’m against is the flippant abuse of black and white, used for no reason other than to make a photo look old or something.
For years, I’ve asked myself “why” before I hit the black and white button:
Is the focus of this image more geometric rather than color focused?
If there’s no defining colors, then maybe black and white could add a totally different dynamic and highlight the lines and shapes of an image.
Would black and white remove distraction and make the forms in this image to look more compelling?
Black and white is often a way I help put focus on a particular subject by removing unnecessary colors and shapes.
What kind of black and white does this image need?
Sepia? A cooler black and white? Maybe a high contrast super black and super white kind of thing? A filmic, noisy, faded black and white? Despite the term for this “filter” being made up of two simplistic colors, there is an almost infinite monochromatic spectrum.
Ultimately, does this image improve by use of black and white?
I remember once in college, while working on my senior project, I printed a contact sheet of images that ended up being black and white because I ran out of color ink on my printer. My professor really got onto me for how “flat” my images looked when the color was sucked from them, and that was one of the first times I noticed the damage black and white can truly do to an image. I’m not saying that critique was my Joker origin story or anything, it didn’t scar me, it just helped me realize how often the crime of unnecessary black and white is committed.
Oh, and above all, NEVER. EVER. EVERRRRRR use color selection, where upon you not only punish an image with black and white, but you take one piece of the image and let it retain its color. You’ve seen this horrible atrocity committed before, I’m sure, and I have a feeling it involved a rose of some kind. (I can say with a clear conscious that I’ve never really stooped down to this level, but mainly out of laziness because it actually takes a fair amount of photoshopping to pull that off, dare I say, “well”)
Once again, I’m sorry. This beautiful green wall was presented to me as a gift while shooting wedding portraits, and I spat in its face by removing its glorious purpose.
I hope you can one day forgive me.