So what makes a photo great in color or black and white? I’ve found that both should, of course, have a good composition. But sometimes color should perhaps be the main focal point, like a photo of fall colors. In a black and white photo, all of the color has been removed which makes us focus more on the composition, shapes, values and visual interest.
I try to compose a photo with shapes and textures that make for a more abstract image, with broad areas of values and lots of grays. For some reason, the photos I choose to keep in color tend to be less abstract and more about a subject, like a particular season or if someone is wearing a bright color. It looks strange to me to see photos of tropical places in black and white because it’s so much about warm weather, bright colors and a very particular light.
I found some interesting takes on the question of whether a photo should be in color or black and white:
- If color plays no importance for the strength of the image, it should be in black and white.
- A black and white image typically portrays emotions better over a color one.
- 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.
- Color should add a point of visual interest through the image, enhancing upon what is there.
I think it’s really a personal decision. For me, if the color image doesn’t really say anything or need its colors to convey a certain message, I just think that maybe it would be better in black and white. I believe the composition is the most important part of the image, as well as a broad range of values and angles. Perhaps this composition works well in both color and black and white.