It´s all about the message

COLOUR or BW?

WHY WHAT

Corn fields are cut. Sony A7rII with Sony FE 1,4 35mm GM.

It almost looks like the machine has cut down the trees behind it as well, breaking through the light.

The old song

It’s an old dilemma for many photographers if they are not just shooting colour photos all the time. But for photographers who love the clean expression of monochrome grayscale photos, it sometimes is a great dilemma what to choose.

The BW photo has this clean and timeless feeling, removing all the distractions that colours add to a photo. A BW photo stands out and delivers the message simpler and often with a clearer impact and expression than a colour photo does.

Sometimes colours are the picture and should be chosen for that reason. When all the magic lies in the colours themselves.

Then there are those situations where you can’t decide what is best. BW or colour?

Same same but different

In between, there isn’t a big difference, or they are just equally good. One for the dramatic grey tones, from deepest black to full white. the other for the rich colours and/or mood.

In photojournalism often editors want colour photos “because that is how we see the world”. I strongly disagree about that. I know we see the world in colour of course but that isn’t a valid point standing alone.

We also speak differently when voicing over a news story on television. We write differently from when we talk. News anchors dress up to present their best and most serious attitude in the studio, not wearing a t-shirt and slippers and hair messy. 

That’s why it isn’t a valid argument.

The image must present the story it tries to bring on the best possible. Therefore it’s all about the message it is getting across.

I agree not every news story should be in black and white, but rejecting BW images is wrong. There is so much power and interest in BW images that they do belong there in photojournalism. 

For art photography, there is no discussion. BW has a huge place there, but also colour photographs have a large space. Just look at the pictures of Helmut Newton who made great photos in both BW and colour

It’s all about the message.

Colour version of the same photo that is shown at the top.

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