New York Daily Photo Analytics

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Benefactors of History

Although black and white photography is clearly a result of the historical/technological development of photography, it is interesting to note that its continued use has not been solely related to the momentum of historical precedence or the cost. Color photography dates back to 1861, black and white to 1822. Black and white continued to dominate even after color film was readily available. Cost was a big factor, but there is a classic look preferred by many photographers for certain applications,  such as portraiture, and for its use in film or TV, such as film noir or Rod Serling's Twilight Zone.

There is certainly a cult phenomenon around black and white and those who shun color for what they believe is an artistic superiority of the media. Many devotees find color a distraction from the subject and that the lack of color forces the viewer to look at other elements more closely - form, line etc. Also, many see black and white as more dramatic and better at capturing a mood than color. Portraiture, weddings, and head shots are areas where black and white still continues to have an important role, often supplementing color.

Of course, many of those hope that the use of black and white will immediately confer a sense of authenticity and historical significance to their photos.

Typically, advancing technology improves a craft. Sometimes, however, the early limitations of a technology conspire for the greater good. People hearken back to that early technology, not only for romantic reasons, but because under certain conditions, the older tools and techniques produce a superior result to newer technology. This can be seen in many areas. I am certainly not saying that black and white is superior to color - I love color and prefer to shoot in color. The world is in color. But there is a place for black and white, and we are the benefactors of history...

About the Photo: Pylones is a gift shop featuring housewares, inspired by the elements of childhood - bright colors, bugs - with a strong cuteness factor. Here you will find an creative selection of items for the office, kitchen, beauty, decoration, jewelry, tools, and, of course, for children. Pylones is a small international chain founded in France in 1985 by Alan Ceppos and Frédéric Rambaud. There are 5 shops in the US (all in New York City), as well as locations in Brazil, Asia and Europe. They also distribute their product to other shops. You can see their website here.
I don't think Pylones or its products work in black and white :)

Related Postings: Coup de Grâce , Tale of Two Colors, Hispanic Day Parade, Color Brigade, Flamboyant,Building Gone Wild, That's Quite a Briefcase, Fashion Forward, Taste, Krishna Festival, Police Riot Concert, Narcissism Gone Wild, A Colorful Life, "Who See the Red"


Lisa said...

I, for whatever it's worth, am a lover of the black and whites. I do agree wholeheartedly with you however. This picture would not stir the same romance in me in b/w as it does in color. Fabulous photo, fabulous points/history about photographs as a whole. I absolutely and throughly enjoy your blog and I hope that you do too it certainly shows that you do!

Thérèse said...

Very much true.
Though I can easily imagin a B & W hairbrush...