No, this is not some sort of nod to THAT book, nor the upcoming movie actually, but rather a bit of self-reflection on my photography.

When I have a look at my work, well when I say “work”, I mean the progression of my photography since the time I attended DPC in September 2013, I have noticed something quite interesting in that although I have a pretty balanced distribution of colour versus mono shots, I by far prefer the black and whites. By a substantial margin no less.

When I am editing most shots, I almost always do a quick B&W version, “just to see”, even if I end up using the colour version. Many times I will even abandon the colour shot altogether. In many cases, even when my plan is to produce a colour shot, I still prefer to mute the colours somewhat. The inverse is that when I plan and commit to full colour, I do tend to push the levels a little too far and end up over cooking things and end up with a slightly over the top image. Sometimes this works, mostly not.

Balance with colour seems to elude me while I feel safe when working in B&W and am more satisfied with the end products when working in mono. Yet, I look at superb colour images and I can see and appreciate the beauty the colour creates. What does that say about me then?

Well, I could play the genetic card and say that my dad is colour blind, but it has no input really as I am not. My mother had me tested. So it’s not really a physical thing then...Could it be mental?

Maybe a little, I am sure my wife would agree. But that is a whole other blog entry. But when I say mental, I am asking if preferring B&W comes from deep within my psyche, as though some image or event from my past that had an impact on me was specifically lacking in colour, and I keep looking for that same impact and drama in my photography? Or, is it simply that my mind likes to package things into organised little parcels and this is easier to do when colour is removed from the equation?

Preferring monotone images hardly makes one dull though, as some of the most dramatic and moving images the world has produced were black and white. But, how, if at all, would those images have been affected if they had been done in colour? The same goes for significant colour images. Would they have lost or gained anything by having colour removed?

Is it possible that the lack of colour even holds our attention for longer as the brain tries to image the scene in colour or even try to replace what is missing? Somehow challenging the brain more than colour? (I may have to read up on that.) Or does it simply come down to good old personal taste.

Hmmm. Seems I have more questions than answers on this. Anyway; Whatever it is, I don’t think I am going to stop or try and control it. Neither am I going to let it diminish my admiration for colour work and continue to strive to achieve better colour photography.

I am simply going to let it evolve on its own and see where it takes me.

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Comment by Danie Bester on August 6, 2014 at 11:28

Kevin, I would like to quote one of my sayings from our Advanced Photography Course...

Black and white presents the viewer with a single message; it gets rid of the complexities, dynamics and differences of colour. It forces the eye to examine the composition and content; it keeps the mind free from excess data

I think the reason why some people resonate better with Black and White is that it strips the image from all the "unnecessary elements" and leaves you with the emotive and compositional content. I also find that images in black and white works better as wall art, because one quickly grows tired of the colour in images. 

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