With the modern digital cameras and color photography the question remains when and if to choose black and white for your photographs.
Until the 1930 photos where solely taken in black and white. Today color photography is contemporary. With the arrival of digital cameras color can easily be manipulated and the same picture that was taken as a color photograph can be processed into a black and white photo.
When to choose color photos over black and white.
Color catches the eye. It creates mood in the picture and sets the time. You can easily see if the photo was taken in spring or fall, morning or evening just by the color of the photo.
- Choose color if it’s the key element of the photo. If a picture lives off the rich color of fall leaves for instance, go with color.
- Go with color if you have colors that are contrasting, but that don’t translate well into black and white.
- Color photos are great when the color helps the subject stand out.
When to choose black and white over color photos.
By removing color the emotional context associated with it also goes away. Black and white brings forms and shapes into focus.
- Choose black and white if you want the photo to appear timeless.
- Black and white simplifies the composition. Choose it when the composition is strong in the photograph.
- Go with black and white if the picture has a wide range of tonal values and definite blacks and whites.
- Do it when texture, light or shape matter more than the color in the photo.
Ultimately it is up to you when to choose black and white or color. It largely depends on the subject matter and the feel that you are going for in the picture.
Experiment with it and keep in mind that some colors don’t translate well into black and white photos. With some practice you will soon find out which subject matters will look better in one or the other.