Painters...professional painters at least... will usually do a 'value' study before applying color. Since any color of the same value will register as an equivalent gray in a black and white photograph, seeing color in terms of value is essential. 'Seeing' in black and white, is the ability to perceive value and understand how it will affect the image. Form, texture and the arrangement of elements are only revealed when there is adequate contrast in value to render their weight in the image as the photographer intends them to be. In a sense, a black and white photograph that works has only this fundamental structure to insure its success. The importance of value is such that Picasso is said to have declared: "If you run out of blue, use red." which is testament to the notion that color is a secondary consideration to value. What's more, the professional painter usually limits his palette to certain colors...not the "millions of colors" that film or digi devices use. Hence, there is deliberate choice on the part of the painter which the photographer is denied unless he chooses to heavily manipulate the image. Since many don't, their work is far more limited despite the apparent paradox of having a complete array of colors rendered on their medium.
Originally Posted by Svend Videbak
So.....in my opinion, the best of black and white photographs are far more expressive than color ones because the photographer exercises, a priori, far more control of the medium. Of course, that's so all encompassing a statement that it's DOA I guess, but it's the way I feel about it.