B&W and color all over

Mar 22, 2007
Manhattan, NY
Real Name
Lewis Lorton
The following is an excerpt from my blog (http://thetraveler.nikongear.com/) that I thought might elicit some interesting responses.

I’m making some broad generalizations here so there are bound to be lots of exceptions but I’m ignoring those. I was post-processing a few pictures the other day and, in converting one to B&W. I wondered why B&W always seems more ‘important’ than color. I have an Internet-friend who mostly shoots photojournalistic shots and converts everything to B&W. (Interestingly this doesn’t seem to violate rule 6 of the Code of Ethics of National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)

6) Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.

Look at the PJism on any site and you'll often see BW - just because they are photojournalism and that's the way it must be. OTOH, many of these pictures, when bereft of their color, often become just snapshots of a particular time and place without the composition and tension that we associate with good pictures of any kind.

Clearly, as color is taken away as a stumulus, the design and the subject become more important. Because I have always lived in a relatively modern society and had newspapers, I have been socialized to associate B&W with ‘news’ pictures, implying that the picture must have something important to say.

Of course, there is the case of selective color where the grey tones are used to provide the context but reduce the impact in comparison with the smaller part that is in color. The differential impact of color and BW is made obvious; one doesn’t see many pictures where almost everything is color and the important part of the image is gray.

I am sort of interested in pictures that combine greys and colors in a way that use the strong characteristics of both.

I have already posted one of these first tries here

Last edited by a moderator:
Jul 7, 2008
Bedford, MA
Black and white photos always used to last longer than color, right? Is this true? Also, don't photojouralists often use black and white because it prints better on that type of paper? Just seems it should have some physical benefits as well as psychological ones. I really like the sky pic. I think if there is a lot of contrast, black and white works. Also, I think it shows a coldness that evokes a certain feel as compared to color. The one of the blue chair, for example, is interesting because of the blue. If it was black and white, I don't think I'd "get" it. Know what I mean?

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