Black & White, or Color? |Annapolis Family Photographer

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!” 
--Ted Grant

We often see documentary photos that are black and white.  There can be many, many reasons behind why the photographer chooses to take away the color for a particular image.   If the photo is old enough, there may not have been a choice involved--black and white was the only thing available!!   One popular reason for making an image  black and white is to help guide the viewer's eye to what is important in the frame.  Black and white has a way of cutting out the clutter in the photo and getting down to the raw emotion of the moment.

But today I'm going to walk you through the reasons why I chose NOT to convert an image to black and white--topsy turvey style!  Here's an image that I took while in the strawberry patch a while back.  I did a basic black and white conversion to see how I liked it, and then decided that color was the way to go for this photo.  

While there's nothing in particular wrong about the b&w, there are lots of reasons for not keeping the conversion here.  The first of which is the weird halo/border around my daughter's shirt. It bugs me!  Another is that I really want the viewer to see the RED strawberry.  After all, the perfect strawberry was the whole reason for the photo. I also think it's sort of boring without color.   But most of all, the black and white image doesn't prompt me to remember some of the memories of the day.   In the color version, I see my daughter's pink stained fingers.  She was eating the strawberries while we picked them and the red juice got everywhere!  Also I have a great view of the hot pink shirt she's wearing.  That 'shirt' used to be a dress.  She conned her Grandma into buying it for her last summer at Kohls.    She wore the dress to death and refused to let me give it to Goodwill this year even though it was obviously way too small.  So, we put on a pair of white short and now proudly call it a shirt.    Those memory triggers are what makes this photo important to me.  When I'm 90 years old, I won't care about the strawberry part, I'll care about the memories of my daughter and of the day.  

In the end, deciding on whether to choose black and white or color is ultimately based on the image itself, the reason for the image, and the photographer's own likes and dislikes.   It's always fun to experiment a little and see what the different versions of your favorite images do for you as a viewer!