(Photograph by Heather Gordon courtesy of Serramento Galleries)
Walk into any modern public venue or tastefully decorated home you’ll notice a new trend in fine art: black & white photography. Whether it’s a forest in the morning mist, or the beautiful architecture of a window or door, one feels a strong sense of nostalgia from black and white photography and longing for the past that is not possible with colour print photography.
A history of black and white photography
(Photograph by Dorothea Lange, Tractored Out, Childress County, Texas, 1938; gelatin silver print, 9 15/16 in. x 13 in. (25.24 cm x 33.02 cm);Source: http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/48332#ixzz4ATcLD1Al San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)
Black and white photography is not new; the world’s first black and white photograph was taken in the late 1820s and became popularized with the upper and middle classes into the 1850’s as a way to record daily life. Black and white photography was the norm for over 100 years until technological advances introduced colour photography where it has remained a staple in our modern world.
Popularization of colour photography
(Photograph by Heather Gordon)
There is no arguing that colour photography adds a dimension to print photographs that cannot be accomplished in black and white. Advancements in technology and the advent of digital cameras and post-processing software give the professional and amateur shutterbug a creative latitude that couldn’t have been imagined only 25 years ago.
Re-popularization of black and white print photography
Why then, has black & white photography and more specifically black & white fine art print photography made a resurgence and is a now a popular design choice for today’s personal and public spaces? Perhaps it’s a need to return to the past. Black and white photography certainly gives our modern world a nostalgic feel. Or gives a hint into what our modern world would have looked like 50 years ago.
The lack of colour in black and white photography certainly forces us to see textures and patterns that are over-shadowed by colour. Tones are more easily expressed and a very different mood is articulated.
What are your thoughts on black & white photography? Do you prefer it over colour? What feelings does one style leave you with over the other?