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Thread: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

  1. #71
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    Re: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Gales View Post
    When I was in Art school many years ago I don't remember any distinction being made between b&w and color mediums unless it was a Commercial Art project that had to be b&w to save money when it was printed in a magazine.
    When I studied art, I don't remember any value distinction. One was as valid as the other. But I certainly remember a distinction. Each imposed a completely different approach to rendering and modeling.

    And there is no doubt from the art shows and galleries I've visited that paintings get more consideration than drawings when price is assigned to works of art, other things (artist, size, importance, subject matter, etc.) being equal.

    Rick "who could also draw before he could write" Denney

  2. #72

    Re: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post
    Most artists are insecure at some level. That insecurity feeds their quest for insight, and their creative curiosity. In fact, I don't think I've ever known an artist of any caliber who didn't constantly experiment with and hone their expression, and who didn't try to see their work as others do, even if they are deeply committed to their message and their expressive approach.

    Those who are without insecurity often seem to me as either charlatans or megalomaniacs.

    Rick "who knows more painters who question their art than photographers" Denney
    Insecurity that drives you to better yourself is one thing. So much insecurity that you need to begin qualifying whether or not someone else's work qualifies as "art" is another level entirely.

  3. #73

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    Re: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

    rdenny: "When I studied art, I don't remember any value distinction. One was as valid as the other. But I certainly remember a distinction. Each imposed a completely different approach to rendering and modeling."

    Agreed, I don't see any value distinction, and have never thought of it in that manner. But I see them as conscious decisions, and ones that I am curious at understanding. Yes, they are both different and relevant and are distinct choices to be made by the image maker.

    rdenny: "And there is no doubt from the art shows and galleries I've visited that paintings get more consideration than drawings when price is assigned to works of art, other things (artist, size, importance, subject matter, etc.) being equal."

    While I agree that this may be true in certain communities, I think it is a shame. Some of my favorite works of art by accomplished artists use only graphite pencil on paper to achieve subject matter I can only hope in my wildest dreams the achieve with my photography. All medium is relevant, as long as the artist knows what to do with it.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the lively discussion! I have really appreciated this, I am very happy to continue this discussion, but just wanted to acknowledge that I have gotten a lot out of this so far!
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  4. #74

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    Re: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

    John Rodriquez: "Insecurity that drives you to better yourself is one thing. So much insecurity that you need to begin qualifying whether or not someone else's work qualifies as "art" is another level entirely."

    This is a very good point John, and certainly not the intent of this thread. None of us here, and no one in anywhere has the authority of passing this type of judgment. As long as the work one does speaks to them and they get enjoyment and insight out of it, I consider it art. I think the purpose of art is education, whether that is self education or to educate others doesn't matter.
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    Re: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

    For me a big consideration is the fact that I am actually color blind. I can barely register green; it's more of a theoretical concept for me than an actual color. It's hard for me to distinguish close shades. I shoot color film sometimes, and I enjoy the colors I actually see, but there's no way I could ever be as good at color darkroom printing (it's a tiny bit easier to compensate with scanners and digital color-management). And I enjoy the process of printing, it's fun. I've seen plenty of color work by others that I thought was quite fine, but for my own darkroom work, I'm going to stick to b&w.

  6. #76
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    Re: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Rodriguez View Post
    Insecurity that drives you to better yourself is one thing. So much insecurity that you need to begin qualifying whether or not someone else's work qualifies as "art" is another level entirely.
    Well, photography, either color or black and white, can be used for non-artistic purposes, so the boundary between what is and is not art will always attract legitimate discussion. I think it comes down to intention, but that cannot always be determined. Most color photography in the world is probably not intended as art. That was true for black and white photography 50 years ago and more, when color was not in popular use. But now, nearly everyone (except for a diminishing few newspaper photojournalists, perhaps) who uses black and white for displaying their photography has artistic intentions even if they are banal. It has probably gotten to the point where one can reasonably imply that a photographer who displays in black and white intends the work as art, and thus it is usually accepted as such. That assumption cannot be made with color.

    So, displaying in black and white is a way of making a statement: I intend this as art. And that definitely, um, colors the perceptions of the viewer.

    Making that statement with color (outside of the display context) is not as automatic, and therefore the work has to go further to be perceived as art. (Obviously, if it's hanging in a gallery, it's intended as art, but that's the display context thing.)

    Those who try to define as non-art what others intend as art, particularly because of their choice of medium or standards of craftsmanship, are perhaps expressing insecurity--no argument there. But they are invalidating a medium--just what I agreed with Alan was rigorously avoided when I studied art.

    Rick "not all of whose photography is intended or should be considered as art" Denney

  7. #77

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    Re: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post
    When I studied art, I don't remember any value distinction. One was as valid as the other. But I certainly remember a distinction. Each imposed a completely different approach to rendering and modeling.

    And there is no doubt from the art shows and galleries I've visited that paintings get more consideration than drawings when price is assigned to works of art, other things (artist, size, importance, subject matter, etc.) being equal.

    Rick "who could also draw before he could write" Denney
    Rick, what I meant was that there was no distinction when it came to the importance of the medium.

    As far as consideration at Galleries and Art shows, you do make a very valid point. The problem is "who" is making that consideration. It's not you or me. It's probably someone who has never used a pencil or brush.

    Alan "who maybe doesn't always write as clear as he should" Gales

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    Re: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

    Moopheus:
    "For me a big consideration is the fact that I am actually color blind. I can barely register green; it's more of a theoretical concept for me than an actual color. It's hard for me to distinguish close shades. I shoot color film sometimes, and I enjoy the colors I actually see, but there's no way I could ever be as good at color darkroom printing (it's a tiny bit easier to compensate with scanners and digital color-management). And I enjoy the process of printing, it's fun. I've seen plenty of color work by others that I thought was quite fine, but for my own darkroom work, I'm going to stick to b&w."

    This is a fascinating perspective! Thanks for contributing! It really makes me wonder whether the colors I see are different than what other see. I see this as a very good argument for B&W being a more universal medium. Fascinating!

    ps. I am currently watching an X-Files that is presented entirely in black and white. the lighting is awesome, and the episode, while a departure from what I am used to is very intriguing.
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  9. #79

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    Re: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post
    Well, photography, either color or black and white, can be used for non-artistic purposes, so the boundary between what is and is not art will always attract legitimate discussion. I think it comes down to intention, but that cannot always be determined. Most color photography in the world is probably not intended as art. That was true for black and white photography 50 years ago and more, when color was not in popular use. But now, nearly everyone (except for a diminishing few newspaper photojournalists, perhaps) who uses black and white for displaying their photography has artistic intentions even if they are banal. It has probably gotten to the point where one can reasonably imply that a photographer who displays in black and white intends the work as art, and thus it is usually accepted as such. That assumption cannot be made with color.

    So, displaying in black and white is a way of making a statement: I intend this as art. And that definitely, um, colors the perceptions of the viewer.

    Making that statement with color (outside of the display context) is not as automatic, and therefore the work has to go further to be perceived as art. (Obviously, if it's hanging in a gallery, it's intended as art, but that's the display context thing.)

    Those who try to define as non-art what others intend as art, particularly because of their choice of medium or standards of craftsmanship, are perhaps expressing insecurity--no argument there. But they are invalidating a medium--just what I agreed with Alan was rigorously avoided when I studied art.

    Rick "not all of whose photography is intended or should be considered as art" Denney

    Rick, as in many previous posts i have read of yours, this is spot on. Black and white is maybe more apparently intended as art, but color has its place too though it may be more difficult to achieve. Thats of course is not intended to pass any judgment, but the fact that many of the images we are forced to 'consume' are color, cannot be denied, and sets B&W apart.

    and yes context in incredibly important! it really cannot be negated.
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  10. #80
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    Re: Why do you shoot Black and White over Color?

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post
    So, displaying in black and white is a way of making a statement: I intend this as art. And that definitely, um, colors the perceptions of the viewer.

    Making that statement with color (outside of the display context) is not as automatic, and therefore the work has to go further to be perceived as art. (Obviously, if it's hanging in a gallery, it's intended as art, but that's the display context thing.)
    William Eggleston immediately leaps to my mind. When I see what he's done, I immediately think to myself, "But why would anybody want to look at that in the first place?" I really wonder about the "the work has to go further to be perceived as art" concept. There's a lot of photographs hanging up that I wonder about. What is the point? Really, that is what I think.

    Adam, I started photographing not because of looking at photographs or because of camera gear, but because of driving home one evening, and being entranced by moonlight. The moon was full and bright, and I thought to myself, "I'd like to photograph that." Nothing more than that. One evening walking home from the grocery store, I saw that the moon and clouds had formed a pagoda. Seriously, there was a small cloud at the top for the point, a larger cloud beneath it, the moon, and then three more clouds, each larger than the next. It was a genuine triangle, looking like a pagoda framing the moon. It lasted about a minute, and then the wind dispersed the clouds, and it was all gone. And so I keep experimenting with photographing the moon and clouds at night.

    Am I my own favorite photographer? In a way, yes. I am driven to photograph by myself. Again and again. I can't put down the camera. I can't stop using film.

    I think my color-to-b&w ratio is actually about 50/50. Some things are good in color. Some things are good in B&W. But some times all I have loaded is color, and some times all I have is B&W. Then I go and look for color photographs, or I go look for B&W photographs.

    But I think that the most important thing is to go and look. If you don't go and look, then you'll never know what's there.
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

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