I have pretty much the same view as Graeme: B&W is the cooked, inflected version, colour is the raw, least inflected.
The Dogme '95 vows, for what they are worth, included 'colour only'.
I see in colour, and feel the urge to record most strongly in colour, but have found that the things that arrest my attention are most effectively communicated to other people in black and white.
I'm not sure if that makes me a black and white photographer in denial, or a colour photographer who needs to work harder on educating his audience.
In practice, I am accumulating a small casket of colour jewels for my own hoard, and a larger heap of black and white baubles for when I want to communicate. I have been accused of not being true to my art, but only by people with a small-town, restricted notion of what it means to create.
I can't help but see nature in color. I can't imagine it in B&W and as a result shoot very little B&W.
Being that I was interested in "art" long before I was interested in "photography" I've never associated B&W with being art and color as being less than art. The Sistine Chapel, after all, was not painted in black and white.
I tend to shoot 80% black and white. Do I see black and white not neccesarily, I don't register on tone or colour I look and see if it is a decent shot. I remember being in Kensington Market late one morning with a Pentax Spotmatic and my Canonet QL17. I know I had black and white in the Pentax but I forgot what I had in the QL17. It turned out to be colour. I was totally blown away with the vibrancy of the Superia Xtra 400. I find my criteria for a really good shot is a) is it interesting to me or whoever is seeing this photo down the road,b) is there any texture c) is there a story.
"Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you might just miss it."
As a painter, color has been the center of my attention for the past 40 years. As a photographer, I have shot B&W for the most part, with some Ektachrome VS or Provia or Velvia (gotta have that saturation) thrown in for good measure. I must admit that, though I always have one camera with color print film in it with me on trips for "source" shots - photographic information from which to paint - I never really saw this as photography, it was just snapshot stuff.
but for the longest time i wouldn't shoot in color cause it was "snapshot film," and now i am ....
anyone else see things differently?
shooting b&w instead of color or visa versa and enjoying the results ?
Now I'm not so sure. Perhaps because I think about the painting that might arise from the snapshot (most often taken with a Yashica T4) I think I compose them differently than I do the "serious photos," maybe with a more instinctive skill, since painting predates serious photography for me by quite a bit. I find myself quite pleased with these images more and more often these days, but I also find that the quality of the printing (since I have been unwilling to spend for a true professional lab for what I considered throw-away work) has me frustrated more often than not.
I'm going to continue to shoot B&W, since I use a lot of ancient and honorable equipment and have a darkroom, but also because there is a purity to the medium. Reduction of information, removing the image from the "reality" of color space, can cause the viewer to click into "art" mode, where it is possible to get people to actually read the image rather than recognize the content of it and move on, the way we recognize cars or people or cows as we drive by them.
At the same time, I may begin to put some color print film in the old Canon and go out shooting - not for source material, but for photographs.
Great question, John.
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