Color, it's just to great a price to pay.
Been there as well, and not done that [as well].
Really, my greatest fear is that the customer, not being familiar with the comparison of black and white to color, would look at the work and wonder why they didn't get what they expected. Then where do you go? Do a reshoot (at your expense?) and hope they liked that?
No. You did the right thing.
Dorothy, I agree with your decision. The only color I do anymore is also very limited...in fact, I'm shooting color for the first time again in a serious manner on the trip my boyfriend and I are taking to Colorado. I say that you should do what you're comfortable with...and do what you want to do.
No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.
I don't disregard color. I disregard when someone thinks I should do what I do not do. If you don't shoot color fine. I would wholeheartedly support you on that. If you shot color and they wanted black and white, I would feel the same way. It is your photography. You are the one to decide what is and what isn't what you do. I find both mediums when done well, to be very pleasing to me. I personally shoot mostly B&W. Yet there are times when color is what really captures the scene and I would either pass or get out the color film. Here in the summer color is just not easy to work with since I take off hiking into the back country, and trying to keep it cool can be a PIA. Winter is great here for color. Yet the somber moods of the lighting just scream out B&W.
Be true to what you do. It will all work out for the best.
While I, too, think you did the "right thing", Dorothy, based on my impression (mostly gained here) of your artistic vision, I'd point out (mostly for the sake of discussion) that there is also a different perspective.
If one approaches photography as a "craft" - rather than as an "art" - the idea of applying one's vision or style to something different is far less of a stretch. Within that extended context, a sensitive portraitist might easily be asked to apply the same sort of style to a commercial product, for example. Similarly, one who does graceful, almost poetic nudes might apply the same skills and style to a high-fashion spread. Vision and style need not be subject-matter limited if it is seen as a more general philosophy or attitude toward all things. A good craftsperson can examine the requirements and objectives of a task, and apply his or her skills in a manner appropriate to the task. One wouldn't expect to hear from a skilled woodworker, for example, "No, sorry. I only make rectangular boxes, not square ones."
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
I can just hear the ad-guy saying, "Yeah baby, just love that string quartet stuff of yours...but we're looking for some punch. Say, I know this marching band...".
Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.
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I'm a bit conflicted on this topic because I once did a job (even though I'm not a full-time photog) that I said I'd never do... a large formal "sweet-16" reception party. Weddings, etc. are not my interest and I swore I'd never get involved in that kind of photogaphy; but it was a friend, and they were desperate, and I'm a push-over. The job ended up being a PITA as I expected, but the resulting pictures exceeded even my own expectations. The problem (as others have already said): now I get calls from other families having such affairs. I like making some extra money but still turn down that kind of work... all the time wishing that I never took the first job bcause now everyone asks me to do what I hate to do! Congrats on knowing what you want to do, what you are good at (although I'm sure you are first rate in color also), and holding the line.
I think you made the right decision. Stay true to your vision. FWIW, I do the same thing when confronted with portraits, weddings, or anything digital.
You made a decision that your personal work is more important to you than making some money. And, to play devil's advocate here, it could have been A LOT of money. It is a matter of deciding how much you want the work. I know photographers who have been so devastated by the current state of things that they would have killed to get a job like that. As someone who made a living for many years doing jobs that went against my creative principles, I applaud your firm stance and dedication to your fine art. But, as a former commercial/editorial photographer who busted a$$ for a long time to make a living and feed my family, I say you could have blown a really big chance. Ad agency accounts just don't fall out of the sky that often and they can be VERY lucrative. One leads to another... one art director that loves your work moves to another agency and takes you with them... You get the picture.
A lot of the best images I made as a commercial photographer came as a result of me having to push myself and break new ground. Although your portraits are beautiful in B&W, color wouldn't be that big a leap and IMO wouldn't hurt your style in the least. I do not know where you are in your career, perhaps it is at a point where you can pick and choose your clients. If so, I applaud you even more. If not, and the commercial route is one you intend to follow, I would get back on the phone and say you changed your mind and talk $$.
Again... sorry to play devil's advocate. It took guts to turn that down and perhaps that will work in your favor. Either way, I admire you for sticking by your principles.
I had a quick look at the portraits you have in your personnal gallery, and what you are doing is 100% B&W. These photos depend on tone and gradation. Color is about color (yes, it is!) and composition in relationship to color. So on the one hand, it's clear that this particular agency has no sense of what makes a color or a b&w picture.
The one way you would have been able to reproduce that look in color would be to use a low saturation film (portra NC maybe), or to go digital and desaturate more. But then you end up with a monochrome or a duotone. Which looks as good in B&W.
What it means in the end is accepting that job would have taken a lot of ramp-up for you. You are the judge as to whether this time could have been a good investment, but in the end I don't think you should feel bad for turning down a job. You're not to people's service, and so many people suffer from job Stockholm syndrome that taking a breath is a mark of basic sanity.
I have turned down an offer for a permanent job in a big software company to do my MA in English, of all things. Well guess what, my student job is a better one than the perm one I was offered!
Using film since before it was hip.
"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal
, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
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Bill makes an interesting point, and possibly that's part of the reason you are questioning your decision. With the decision made, you have closed the door on an opportunity that might have led to an assignment or job you DID want to do...and on your own terms. Now you will never know, and it seems to be giving you pause.
But many of us dread crossing that fine line, or even being put into a situation like yours, where we make the choice to turn our passion for our art into what can be seen as being a whore for money. That seems to have been the bottom line for you, and enabled you to turn down this offer. And it does take integrity to make such a choice. So in that light, I must join the others and salute you.