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Power of B&W photography

Posted by Ted on the Leica Users Group, 13.07.2006

Power of the B&W Image? I have always believed in the power of black and white photography even when it wasn’t in vogue for a couple of decades. Recently while watching a TV program produced from B&W stills of President John F. Kennedy it merely strengthened my resolve, that there isn’t anything more powerful than black and white photography, whether in print or TV! The message from this program was the immense power of B&W imagery.

There isn’t any argument whatsoever of the intellectual intensity in the Black & White photograph. Simply because, it’s all “content”! What you see is what you get! There are no frivolous colors to distract; the content is the motivation of each picture. I have no problem with colour, the point is, B&W creates more decisive images than colour. Colour is sensual. Black and white is intellectual! Think of it in this manner: When you photograph people in colour; you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white; You photograph their souls!

Colour TV has contributed to people becoming immune to violence, as the 6 o’clock “news reality” and the TV “shoot ’em up sitcom” look the same! Because of colour TV and printed pages of the past 25 years, a generation of viewers have become basically immune to the “content impact” of the black and white look of life in relation to human beings.

The impact of the B&W photograph will always be here, simply because of what it does; touch our mental emotions. If that were not the case, then many manufacturers, Calvin Kline, Mercedes and IBM to name a few, wouldn’t be using Black and White imagery to promote their products! Black and white is intellectual. It makes us think!

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