Please help me with my dissertation!

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Robert West, Nov 29, 2003.

  1. Robert West

    Robert West TPF Noob!

    Nov 29, 2003
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    Hello, my name's Robert West, I'm a 21yr old photography student currently undertaking my third and final year of my Degree at the Norwich School of Art and design, Norfolk, England. As part of my degree i am required to write a 10,000 word dissertation on a subject of my choice.

    The title of my essay is...

    How does photographing an event in black and white, rather than colour, change the relationship between the viewer and the subject?

    It sounds complicated, but is actually fundamentally quite simple. I want to explore how seeing an event in black and white can distance the audience from the reality represented, constantly reminding us that it is only a film, and that what is on the screen cannot harm us.

    I guess you guys (and gals!) are the experts, so hopefully you will be able to help me.

    Aside from the question above i would very much like your opinions on...

    *How b/w photography can feel older, for example how it is used in films such as the Elephant man , Raging bull or Schindler's List.

    *The 'immediacy' of colour war photography ie. how much more powerful horrific images can become if they are shot in colour.

    *How b/w abstracts reality by removing one of the elements we can instantly understand.

    *Whether, despite this, b/w can ever be MORE realistic than colour. ie. there is reality, and our perception of reality.

    These are just a few ideas, if you have any other opinions regarding the relative strengths and weaknesses of b/w photography compared with colour please let me know.

    Please also feel free to email me at

    Thank You.

  2. MrEd31

    MrEd31 TPF Noob!

    Aug 13, 2003
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    well robert,

    you pose a very intriguing qurestion. I'll just throw in my 2cents and if i doesnt help answer your question I appologize.

    black and white photography simplifies things technically. However, there is a complicated truth represented in the tones of a black and white print. A black and white photographer is afforded the opportunity to remove a lot of confusion and clutter from a print, leaving only what is important

    I think colour is mundane. Colour is how I live my everyday.

    I'd be interesested in reading your final product. As I try to answer your question, I realize how little I've thought about why I only shoot in black and white.
  3. mrsid99

    mrsid99 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2003
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    Hi Bob!
    As someone who was born and brought up only 20 miles from you (Gt. Yarmouth) I feel I owe you my input but please take it for what it's worth, which may be nothing.
    In my opinion, B&W states that it is an image and not a true representation, unlike color which attempts to imitate reality hence your feelings, and others, about war photography. It seems more real in color.
    The word "caricature" comes to mind with B&W but that's probably an oversimplification.
    It does as you mention make images seem "older" and therefore more appropriate to the era covered but as a commentary rather than a statement of fact.
    The comparison between a newspaper and television is probably the closest I can think of.
    Disclaimers: I use photography to capture events/places/ images that please or attract me and as such color photography is my weapon of choice.
    I guess that's why I constantly check out the latest techniques and equipment in order to have the means to capture the closest to what I see.
    B&W has no interest to me personally for the pics I take although I've seen and often complimented B&W shots posted on this forum for various reasons.
  4. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

    Oct 30, 2003
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    Hermosa Beach, CA U.S.A
    We see the world in color, so of course BW will always be more dramatic. This rule does not apply when shooting Kodachrome 64.
  5. dustbin

    dustbin TPF Noob!

    Nov 28, 2003
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    Hi Bob,
    You mentioned immediacy when refering to colour war photography. Could you discuss new media theory in your thesis?
    The book 'Remediaton' by Boulter discusses our perception of reality, and descibes terms such as remediation, immediacy, hypermediacy.
    Might give you another angle on it.

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