Photography : black and white or colour?

African_women_drumming_ZambiaFor many years a friend teased me. She would praise one of my black and white photos, then suggest that colour might have worked better. Smiling, I’d explain that I preferred black and white, before changing the subject.

But when I moved to Zambia, the choice didn’t feel so clear-cut. Suddenly, faced with cloudless skies and a world full of colour, shooting in black and white seemed perverse. To add to my dilemma, I’d bought my first digital camera just before leaving the UK. It was so convenient and flexible, with no need to choose between colour and monochrome in advance.

I went through a ‘honeymoon period’, enjoying the world of colour photography and wondering why I’d been so loyal to its poorer cousin. With hindsight, I realize that part of my disillusionment was caused by lack of skill. Having abandoned black and white film, I struggled to convert digital files into satisfying monochrome images.

It’s now more than two years since I fell in love with colour and the honeymoon is over. On balance, I still prefer my first love. Most of my idols shot in black and white – think of James Ravilious, Roger Mayne and Vivian Maier. But now when I’m asked which I prefer, I’m less dogmatic than I used to be.

I’m going to leave you with a gallery of pictures and ask you to decide which ones work best in colour, which ones in black and white. To view them uncropped, click on the first image, then scroll through using your right arrow key.

I look forward to hearing your views.

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8 Responses to “Photography : black and white or colour?”
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