Project 3: Colour or black and white exercise in street photography

My chosen location for this exercise was High Holborn, London. Shooting street photography style images I noted a number of interesting observations and differences between a colour format versus black and white.

Colour immediately feels more real which I believe is because we see and remember in colour not black and white.

Black and white creates the sense that the images are part of a historical and or documentary project probably due to a subconscious recognition of black and white as the historical and therefore traditional format of choice for documentary and reportage work.

The black and white images also create an artistic sense, again probably due to a subconscious recognition of black and white as the historical and therefore traditional format of choice for art or serious photography.

Black and white also creates a sense of importance and authenticity because perhaps an image separated from it’s natural colour range appears as if it was taken ‘some how, some way’ in the same way that pixelated or grainy images can give a sense of authenticity (think of Robert Capa’s D-Day landing images from World War Two).

The black and white format can also emphasise contrast in tones particularly well which I think works well when taking photographs in the city where there are often striking contrasts between people and the difference materials of the built environment.

However, colour does feel more intuitive and certainly more contemporary, again perhaps because I have been researching recently the development of photography and seen that to large extent many serious practitioners now predominantly use colour and this format is widely accepted by the art world.

The additional ‘colour’ information contained in a colour image gives more information to interpret and creates a sense that there is more to understand. This allows complexities and different layers of meaning and interpretation to take shape.

I think on reflection I prefer colour and see it as a more complex format which whilst perhaps more challenging to work with can create a wider range of outcomes, although the black and white format is so ingrained in mainstream culture and history I still have a strong resonance with it.





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