A Black and White (B/w) image sits a degree below a fractured line of thought that considers photographs as “real” documents. Even without colour, it’s assumed that what we see actually happened, but merely with some artistic tampering, in a de-saturated world.
B/w is not just another filter on a smartphone; it is a frame of mind with a solid history and long back-story. Photography started without colour and for about a century, we adapted to this form of representation as we did to night seen by candlelight.
Our perception of the world changes with technology. It’s interesting to note that when a young engineer at Kodak invented digital photography in 1975, the first 0.01-megapixel images were B/w ones recorded on cassette tape. It was only 20 years later that this innovation was taken seriously (encouraged by it’s potential commercial application) and adding RGB (Red, Green & Blue) was considered worthy.
Now that we have a constant stream of pictures at our fingertips, does a monochrome image trigger nostalgia for something lost, or, being one step removed from apparent truth, is it even more valid an expression in an over-saturated medium?
This is a question we keep asking ourselves as we take more and more B/w images both for work and personal projects.