The elitist history of fine art photography was partial to black and photography for decades. From 1930 to the late 1970s, black and white photos ruled the roost falling in the category of “serious” photography, worth collecting as coveted art and as the irreplaceable editorial choice for gripping news. The connoisseurs firmly relegated colour photography to capture the more commercial needs and a commoner’s travel snapshots. Here’s why black and white photography still is a clear favourite with art aficionados.
We are used to seeing around us in colour unless we are colour blind. Collectors prefer black and white photographs as they offer a different perspective to what we perceive as reality. Stories stand out in stark black, white and greys; in the play of light and shadows. If as a collector, you focus on photographs with a lot of clear-cut shapes, lines and textures, do choose black and white photographs. Without distracting colours, the brain can focus better on the shapes and textures, making them stand out better.
Doing away with Distractions
Like in street photography, where colour can be distracting, black and white helps to remove the distraction around the subject and focus on the subject. There’s popular opinion that black and white is ideal for portraits as it captures the subjects’ emotional nuances without the distraction of their colourful clothes.If as a collector, your theme is character of subjects, don’t have second thoughts about opting for black and white portraits.
Depth and Luminance
If as a collector, you are looking for photographs with more depth, go for the ones where the photographer has used the negative spaces effectively to separate the subject from the background. This playing around with the nothingness in the frame or with the interrelationship between the light and the dark areas are best achieved through black and white photography.
On proper metering of the brightness of the subject in black and white photography, the rich greys almost acquire a silvery sheen imparting a pure, innocent and surreal quality to the subject. What could be a more ideal choice if you are planning for a collection of children photography or one based on an ethereal theme!
Black and white photographs are versatile in nature – be it in terms of the portrait or landscape format, or lighting and intensity, or strong, high contrast and powerful, or soft, gentle and subtle. This versatility along with the elegance, timelessness and authenticity of black and white photography makes it an ideal element in interior décor as well.
Neutral colours and muted tones lend themselves well to a zen-like minimalistic contemporary interior theme. Black and white photographs add uniqueness, depth, character, and style and can non-intrusively blend with any kind of interior tones. Accent colours such as red, yellow, orange, and green can be further accentuated by the monochrome of black and white photography.
The timelessness of black and white photography makes family portraits have an eternal appeal creating rich history for future generations and can be a perfect backdrop above your bed. You can create your own gallery of black and white photography along the walls of your staircase or in the landing. Period photography in black and white can accentuate your leather-bound classics in your library, while larger-than-life celebrity portraits can make your home theatre elegant. For an adventuristic ambiance to your living room, bring out your black and white travel photography. Black and white photography can be not only artistic but affordably so as well. And by carefully following artists and pursuing themes of your liking, you can create a style for yourself as a collector of black and white photography. Click here to explore some black and white monochromes to add to your collection.