Is black & white photography better?
Updated: Jan 28
Mark Blezard comments
Of course not. Plain and simple. However, it does have something that colour photography doesn't, a hidden feature that will push your abilities forward.
I liken this to learning to drive a racing car. Many years ago, I attended a racing school with ambitions of joining the British Racing & Sports Club. To the frustration of many, we spent day after day racing the slowest of slow cars. Why? Because to get any speed up whatsoever, and pop in a decent time, you had to learn the basics – the racing line. Black & white photography is the same.
With colour out of the equation, you are dealing with light, composition, and contrast. Little more. Knowing that you are shooting in mono, it challenges you to work harder on how you frame the picture and read the light.
With only grey tones to play with, you'll want as many as possible to paint your picture. You may also choose to burn a small part out to dramatise the story.
In racing, we were taught to hold the steering wheel with our fingertips. This helped us receive more information back from the road surface. Working in black and white has a similar effect, you have to take more time to read the situation, think about how you are going to capture the story, where the light is coming from, and what are the shadows doing.
Basically, it teaches you the fundamentals which can easily be lost in the age of digital photography. Even if you are converting to mono with Photoshop, give it a go.