Color vs Black-and-white


Inspired by this article on I have started thinking about why some photos look better in color, while others look better in black-and-white. I’ve also tried to comprehend the criteria based on which we can decided when to leave photos in color and when to convert them to BW. Ordinarily I find it easy to decide, I switch one or two times between color and BW and go with my gut. With some of the photos I like both color and BW versions so much, that even after repeated switching I can’t decide on one or the other. Sometimes I like one photo so much, in color as well as in BW, that I process both versions until „they are final“, save them, view them for a day or for several days repeatedly, and yet I still seem to be unable to decide which to keep. Sometimes I process a photo anew, just to see whether I can get more out of it. Sure, it’s a good way to up one’s post processing skills, but because I spend more than enough time I front of a computer during work, I prefer to spend my free time taking a walk, going outdoors and making photos. Therein lies the counterbalance to my job and not in photoshopping like a madman.


The criteria, which the author of the article linked above together with many fellow photographers has worked out, could also help me spend less time in front of a display and more time with a camera in my hands. Here are the Top 5:

1. If color plays no importance for the strength of the image, it should be in black and white.

2. A black and white image typically portrays emotions better over a color one.

3. A stronger tonal contrast sets itself up well for a black and white image. It allows you to fill in the rest of the blanks with your mind.

4. Color should add a point of visual interest through the image, enhancing upon what is there.

5. If the colors cannot be saved, such as strong casts, the fallback is converting it to black and white.

Also interesting are the opinions of many photographers, who have commented the article. For example, a quote from the famous Ted Grant (photographer, not the politician from South Africa): “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!” You can find additional comments here und here.

What’s your take on this? 🙂

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