Is B&W Photography for Snobs

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Jeff Canes, Sep 6, 2007.

  1. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 19, 2003
    Messages:
    6,190
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Hollywood, FLA USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    There is an old belief that B&W is more for the Fine Arts that color. The theory is that the uneducated viewer does not understate the nuances of B&W images and prefers color ones because they are infatuated with simple bold colors.

    That's not necessarily my opinion I’m paraphrasing others. But Adams was one that expressed this opinion at one point in his life.
     
  2. wildmaven

    wildmaven TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    985
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Picking up dog poops
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Amazing!!! My husband and I were having this discussion just last night! We own a gallery and one of our artists we just signed is a photographer who specializes in black and white. He said that he is thinking about getting away from it and going back to color because "black and white scares people." People think that, when the look at a black and white photograph, they have to look at it more as art, rather than just saying they like it. He noticed, when he goes to art shows, his booth gets less attention when he shows only black and white, but more attention when he shows color image. It's really sad.
     
  3. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,292
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I think the above post goes to show B&W isn't just for "snobs" otherwise the photographer would just play it off as uneducated people not appreciating the art, and thats their fault. Instead he is considering changing his style - hardly the move of a snob.

    But, I am sure there are some people who think they are better for taking B&W only and that color is the easy way to take a picture. Let them think that, they are the ones looking silly and closed minded.
     
  4. LokiZ

    LokiZ TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    354
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Northern Indiana
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I don't know why people would think that way.

    I myself think that black and white is yet just another tool, another option, another way of focusing on what you the photographer want to get across as the message that is your image, your capture, your work of art.

    Sure B/W can be a risk, some times loosing the color to print or anything other then raw and you loose the color for good. But if you think about it... if you realized that your image needs the absence of color to more completely portray the image your story will tell... well it doesn't really need the color at all then does it.

    When I take pictures that is one thing I don't give in on. On the images I take that are b/w they are b/w... the color stay color. What I would have a hard time with would deciding I am going to either one to stay.


    As far as your issues with what sells. I was always under the impression that professional photography is one of the few and proud professions where those employed more times then not truly enjoy what they do. Hopefully this is true for you and whichever decision you choose will not change that.

    Good luck whichever way you go!

    I know a few people having even less knowledge then me concerning photography. Many of them seem to like the b/w more. Of course I highly doubt I sell as many photos as you do. In fact I pretty much know I don't :D
     
  5. LokiZ

    LokiZ TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    354
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Northern Indiana
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    If they can develop their own color prints, then I might consider their right to have an opinion on which is easier. I have never done color but I hear it's a bear compared to b/w.

    Digital comparison, I still don't see it. It's still just another way to best express your message. ;D Choose your weapon!
     
  6. michaelk

    michaelk TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    I shoot both color and black and white. It depends on how I am seeing the world at that moment in time. It has nothing to do with snob appeal or anything else.
    Two quick things off the top of my head.. First, everyone (with a few exceptions) sees the world in color. Therefore, if one takes a color photograph and manipulates it where it looks too far outside the bounds of reality, everyone will see it. That's where the remarks such as "that's not real" or "it doesn't look like that", etc come from. The world in black and white is unreal to begin with. No one really knows how it looked so the artist is more free to present whatever vision he/she wants.
    Second, about people not understanding the nuances of B&W and liking simple bold colors. I don't know about that. I do know that many times when I show my color images the first thing many say is "wow, look at the colors". With the B&W photographs, that color is not there so they see what the photograph is of first.
    But really it does not matter why you like a photograph as long as you like it.
    Everyones definition of art is different.
     
  7. Joxby

    Joxby TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2007
    Messages:
    272
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I love B/W, I find it challenging, mostly because I'm rubbish.
    A few photographers I know, have a different approach, they use it like a photoshop filter, a way to salvage a colour image they shot that wasn't quite up to scratch.
    Shooting B/W is a different discipline to colour, I dont mean from a processing point of view, I mean from creative capture.
    Often I'll see a scene and think, that'd be a great B/W, give yourself no choice by shooting B/W film and you soon begin to appreciate the subtle differences in technique and vision you have to adopt to make up for the absence of colour.
    I dont think theres that much art snobbery involved in B/W, but its definately not the same approach as colour when choosing a capture, not more difficult...just different.
    Some messed up colour shots might benefit from a B/W conversion, but mostly the photo's I have taken and consider modestly successfull, have been with images B/W at conception.
     
  8. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2003
    Messages:
    25,324
    Likes Received:
    2,084
    Location:
    In the mental ward of this forum
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Jeff: I'm not familiar with that Adams quote or statement. Would love to read the actual passage.

    I would hope B&W shooters not come across as snobby. I find there is more freedom in shooting B&W than with color, but that's a personal approach to my own photography. Doesn't mean I can't admire a bold, graphic color photograph. When a photograph is beautifully done, sometimes my peripheral brain won't even take notice of whether or not it's B&W...if that makes sense. :lol: It's just way down the list of what makes a successful image, "arty" or not.

    Just my two cents. :)
     
  9. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,643
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Bolivar, MO
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I am BEGINNING to shoot a little B&W and it seems neat so far. However, here's a childhood memory. (I'm only 21, so this was only 10 years ago)

    A photographer came into our classroom, a class room full of like 4th graders. She showed us her photography, and it was all B&W. I've gotta say, she gave me the worst stereotype of a photographer. All her pictures were of powerlines, and dead trees, and cars smoking. She was all into this 'the world is eating itself' concept, and she was really depressed, and i remember thinking, "wow, she is weird". She kept getting worked up about how ugly the world is now.

    Anyway, Black & White photos were a way for her to make her statement, which I didn't like. (I don't have anything against people who make that statement, I am just sharing childhood memories). So, that has given me a bad impression of B&W photos for quite some time. Now, I'm definitely warming up to the idea :D.
     
  10. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 19, 2003
    Messages:
    6,190
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Hollywood, FLA USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    It’s something I had hear years ago, my high school photography teacher must have been the first person I hear talk about both B&W as High Art and Adams dislike of color, have always assume it was comment knowledge that Adams (and maybe my teacher) did not like color, I only referenced him because I did not want people to think I was stating my optional

    Link to review of an Adams book I just ordered.
     
  11. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 19, 2003
    Messages:
    6,190
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Hollywood, FLA USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Snobs seem like the most universal hook word or phase. That’s why I used it. Does that make me beguiling?

    Personally I like B&W and mostly prefer the random uneven look and effects of film. Have nothing against bold or saturated colors I was Fuji user for years.

    But I’ve noticed different responses to both COLOR and B&W. To me most people do seem to response more positive to color images. Also the positive remark I hear about B&W seem to come more from people aware of photography and the arts. Or they think it B&W so it must be art.

    I know a plastics engineer that worked for Kodak, he told me that Kodak spend years developing more accurate color films, but in marketing test most people preferred the saturated colors of films like Fuji, that is why Kodak came out with VC and UC films
     
  12. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Messages:
    5,327
    Likes Received:
    264
    Location:
    The Upper West Side of Mississippi (you have no i
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    This all seems pretty straightforward to me. Color prints are easily understood in that they use the spectrum that you are used to seeing.

    B&W is harder because you are not used to being limited in that manor.

    The snobbish types gravitate towards things which are harder to better differentiate themselves (let's face it, if it were easy to be a snob then everyone would do it ;))!

    So, a much higher percentage of snobs will like B&W than regular people. This will make them more noticeable and have others talking about them.

    Of course if most people weren't do darned lazy there wouldn't be much for snobs to be snobbish about. :)

    mike
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page

dvertisers in general and the public with their insatiable appetite