Only Colour Will Do

Forced to make the choice, I’d opt for black and white photography over colour.  Part of the reason may lie in habit and tradition: it’s what I grew up with and learned in the darkroom.  Monochrome is timeless.  Then there is the simplicity of the palette, black to white through an infinity of greys, which renders the subject without the distraction of colour.  It’s a palette capable of creating its own rich range of tones and textures that enhance form, shape and pattern.  There is an honesty as well as simplicity: a black and white photograph is what it is, a depiction, an interpretation of something, not the real thing.  Shooting in black and white helps us to see things differently, more clearly.

But there are times when only colour will do.  It may be that it is the colour that has attracted attention, a quality in the subject that complements form and shape to create something that is more than the sum of the parts.  Or it may be that colour is the essence of the thing, that it becomes almost meaningless in monochrome: photographs of rainbows must have been very disappointing before the advent of effective colour photography.

Photographs: 1. Faculty of Law, Cambridge, March 2019; 2. J’s kitchen, March 2019

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