One aspect I have always enjoyed about black and white photography is the sense of escapism that comes with these types of photographs. As many fine art photographers of the past have demonstrated, the removal of color tends to remove many of the confines of reality, at least as our human brains perceive it.
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.” – Edgar Allen Poe
As much as I also love color, I have wondered if I could limit myself to photographing only in monochrome for a period of time. I even considered the possibility that I just force upon myself to shoot only B&W in 2014. I was thinking that type of immersion and commitment could only be beneficial in my growth as a photographer.
Many people already make that their sole presentation of their work. As they say, limitation often inspires creativity, and I am always looking for additional inspiration. I wonder, if I could be out somewhere and have the most brilliant display of color in the sky, and then essentially blow it away in developing the photograph. Tough choice in the pursuit of discipline, but obviously it has been done before by many others.
Of course, these days, you can have your cake and eat it too. There are so many options available now in how we process our photographs that it is almost suffocating. Clarity of choice arises conveniently in not having so many possibilities, similar to bringing only a single lens with you.
Scenes where color isn’t a significant factor seem like easy decisions to become black and white. It offers a wonderful way to explore intimately the tones throughout a photograph that are normally overpowered by the influence of color. But when color plays a significant role, I think that is where the rubber hits the road in your dedication. I am not so sure I have it. I am not sure I could be just a “black and white” guy.
So while I ponder such a “limitation” in future work and if I have the tenacity to be committed to it, I do have plenty of past work sitting in my archives that have never been processed either way. In many ways, it is like seeing a scene entirely new again. It is a luxury that the pioneers of the medium and those with only monochrome film in their cameras never had .