Color or Black and White Photography?

When it comes to photography many purists prefer black and white for the medium’s simplistic aesthetic that isolates the visual subject. Traditionally the medium of black and white is preferred for portrait photography and is used to produce a more raw documentary style.

Color photography can capture the vivid details of surroundings and reflect the beauty of a landscape, skin tone, or subject’s eyes. In this post I am including two similar photographs; one in black and white and one color. Which do you prefer?


10 Responses to “Color or Black and White Photography?”

  1. November 28, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    you’ve got some great photos

    as for the question at hand, it all depends on the subject(s), surrounding and the make-up of the photo. as for the examples in this post, i prefer the b&w

  2. November 30, 2006 at 2:25 am

    I prefer the color, and I’m a pretty traditional guy. Black and White is definately en vogue write now, however, when you compare the two, as you have done the verdict is clear. Black and White looiks tired and forced. Color looks bright and cheary.

  3. 3 marc
    November 30, 2006 at 10:00 am

    the girl on the right looks amazing when she smiles, but the facial stickers look really tacky in colour

  4. November 30, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    Tough to answer. The details of the face paint/tattoos are more lively in the color shot, but they are also smiling, which effects the feel of the shot as much as the color does.

    The black and white is more contemplative. But given the subject matter, I like the brightness of the color shot better.

  5. November 30, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    I would normally advocate for the b&w. However, in this instance I like the color photo. I think that the sticker color detracts though. The determining factor for me was the smiles. They bring a stronger energy in the color photo.

  6. 6 Kat
    December 5, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    Great photographs! It does depend on what you’re taking the photo of. I look at the black and white in a dramatic and mysterious way. Color photos are more personal and fun. In this situation, I think the black and white is better. That’s just me tho.

  7. December 7, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    I think it’s interesting that you selected a b&w photo with minimal smiles and a color photo with Kool-Aid-like smiles. I agree with the comment that the stickers detract in the color shot. I’d have to say that the b&w is my favorite in this instance. It’s more simple and elegant.

  8. December 19, 2007 at 1:02 am

    I certainly prefer color, but I once preferred black and white and had disdain for color back when I was in school in the 1980s and 1990s. When I was in college, when digital cameras came along, I realized that I would really go for color. Because of this, I believe that black and white is a thing of the 20th century. I am disappointed about the return of black and white. Liquid crystal display works better in color than in black and white. Black and white is more susceptile to pixel retention.

  9. May 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    The colour is the better picture here in terms of overall composition, although the tones in the BW are better than the colour. However a feature of these photo’s are the coloured hearts which make this a fun picture and therefore my sway is towards colour.

    In most portraits, the key is the eyes. The colour shows the blue eyes much better, although this could be worked on in post processing.

    Photography is a visual language, and there are reasons why you might want to use BW, or a variety of other tones, in the same way as you might want to use colour.

    BW is generally more suited to reflective, structured and controlled images than informal pictures, although there are always exceptions!

    In Black and White, traditionally filters were used, ie Red makes the sky go almost black. Most of these can be replicated in the digital darkroom!

  10. May 15, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    From a previous post..

    I am disappointed about the return of black and white. Liquid crystal display works better in color than in black and white. Black and white is more susceptile to pixel retention.

    Yes, you are right, you generally need a good camera sensor and careful capture technique. BW is about the details in the shadows, and sensors are poor here, especially if using jpeg from a consumer camera.

    It is also more difficult to work on unless you have calibrated monitors, printers and icc profiles. Also the choice of paper that you print onto becomes critical. The high street labs assume its all colour!

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