Black and white photography, or often least people refer to greyscale photography, is one of my main interest in photography. There is no definite reason why I prefer greyscale to colors, no matter how hard I try to put it in writing. Generally, photography is an art form of realism. It is considered to be realistic representation of a subject.
Color photography takes one step ahead of that representation. The most realistic graphic that can represent the real world as it seems.Black and white (greyscale) on the other hand, takes one step behind. It represents exactly the same world, only it is restricted by a set of grey colors.
If color photography is defined as an absolute depiction of subject as they appear in everyday life (wikipedia), then why people are still interested in less advance method of photography? i.e Black and white? Does it not comply with the fundamental stone of photography itself, that is to capture the reality.
There is no definite answer to that question. The following writing is just my humble and personal opinion. It is not meant to spark arguments or to flicker contradiction to what people have already and comfortably believed.
It is true that colors photography is more realistic in term of subject representation. However, it is only a form of art. One particular inclination can not be defined as an absolute expression by one particular artist. Impressionism is not an absolute presentation of art, neither realism nor abstract.
Color might represent one form of expression, but not another. Black and white represents art from different perspectives. All the artistic masterpiece evaluations are more relevant to perceptual response of an individual than anything else. The way we response ourselves when seeing a photograph, very much depends on how we perceive anything in this world. One might perceive something differently from others. In another word, anything in art is subjective.
When we see a very beautiful color photograph, we are often stunned for a few milliseconds. Consciously or unconsciously we are impressed by what we see. Often we wonder, how come such a beautiful thing can be captured into two dimensional piece of paper.
Black and white on the other hand, allows more expression in term of texture, shape definition and pattern, or all other thing apart from colors….in fact, everything but color.
Color can alter our own perception. In some extend, it can be biased by our self-consciousness. Some people hate blue, some stereotyping red with anger and so on and on. Black and white takes away all those things. It brings image to its truest form and let the viewers take aside all the perceptions and biases created by life itself.
I am not trying to say that black and white is the truest form of image expression. What I am trying to say here is that black and white brings back all the essences in graphical form of art : subject, lines, curves, shapes, patterns, focus, lighting, compositions and most importantly MOMENT, without being perceptively distracted by the presence of colors.
Back to my earlier prologue. Not everything looks good in black and white, there is one particular thing that can generate meaning only in colors presentation. In contrary, everything might look good in colors, but there is also one particular thing that can provoke more emotion and strong emphasis being put in black and white.
This is just my very personal opinion. Comment if you please.
Please visit Anton Candra flickr page for more images