Mood. Something about black and white photographs transcends the simple purpose of a photograph. Beyond just revealing what something looks like, photos devoid of color also seem to create emotion as well. It is almost as if the subject has let you in on a secret, something no one else looking through the prism of color can see.
It could be a sunny day or cloudy and the photo still has a depth to it, almost a sadness – as if you are seeing the real story, behind the smile.
Often this isn’t something that reveals itself at the time the photo is taken, either when you pick your shot or click the shutter. It is later, in the silence of the review process. Some photos just speak to you and those are the ones that demand all color be stripped out so they can be seen in their rawest form – laid bare without any pretense.
Like the paint slowly pealing from the ceiling of a century old country store. The novelty of the place are the old things carefully placed on wooden shelves or the bottle cokes available for purchase just because they evoke another time; those things keep the visitors pouring through the door, but it is looking up at the ceiling and seeing this detail that gives you a peak behind a carefully constructed mirage of age. There is authenticity, in it – realness presiding silently over the illusion.
Or the majestic oak trees in a southern cemetery. To most they reflect the grandeur of a time long gone, but with color stripped away, it appears as if the trees are weeping through their shroud of moss. It is haunting, otherworldly…and much more intimate than the colorized version. The Gothic Southern tale come to life…
Black and white photography is the soul of a photo as much as color can be the jewelry. Both are distinct in their artistic differences, one the flip side of the other, separate but equal in the telling of a story.
All photos by the author.