To shoot in black-and-white is a great photography exercise. It just lets you train your eyes and instinct to see in a different way. By using tones, texture, shadows, contrast and etc. instead of relying on colors, you learn how limitations can force you to work for your shot. On the other hand, shooting in color has its own merits because like shooting in monochrome, it's a world of its own.
Color photography teaches you when and how to pay attention. Colors are everywhere but you have to be mindful of your surroundings to be able to spot color that can make your shot stand out. Be ready to ask questions like how does this color lend itself to my shot? Will it make my frame stand out? Should I add more color or is this enough? These are some things you should consider when you shoot. Being conscious of what you do and what you see is a big part of the game.
What some people don't understand about color is that it is in itself a character in the story you're trying to tell. Be it in photographs, movies, or paintings. Color is an active participant in the whole visual experience. Whatever you choose to inject into your photograph will have a role to play. It can be an agent of feeling, memory, mood, and action. It can show your audience the relationship between the subjects in your photograph. Color is a tool and learning how to use it the way you want to can be one of the most useful things to have in your arsenal.
Style is one thing that can be closely connected with color. Artists like Burt Glinn, Joel Meyerowitz, Saul Leiter, and William Eggleston are all masters of color. They had this unique and natural ability to use color in a way that it helps with the narrative they're telling. Bright colors, muted colors, contrasting colors, complimenting colors — these are all different combinations that can make up different artistic and photographic styles and with practice, they've learned how to use them to benefit their shooting style. Some like experimentation but others dedicate their lives to the mastery of one specific style. It's your choice which route to take.
More Colors Than We Can See
Throughout history, film companies have also released special purpose film which could capture color and wavelengths far beyond what our human eyes can see. Specialized Infrared Color film originally designed for surveillance work comes to mind. Despite its technicality, this film in the hands of artists pushes the envelope of how color could express as well as capture the emotions and expressions.
Used in a different purpose by artists and creative minds, these special films became a gateway to another world where unbelievable colors filled the surroundings. A shift in colors introduced a new aesthetic, a different way to express the self through out-of-this-world hues and tones. Back then, psychedelic visions were just a product of fever dreams. Now they're a sought-after look in the world of film photography.
Going Beyond Color
Lomography's own emulsions push the envelope of colored photography with films like the LomoChrome Turquoise and LomoChrome Purple. Allowing creative and experimental photographers to work with a wider palette of expression. These films aim to inspire and elevate the color experience to new heights. Seeing these purple and turquoise tones for the first time will always be thrilling and inspiring. Sceneries shot with LomoChrome films are not the ones you easily forget.
To talk about color is to talk about connection. Shooting in color is relatable. We see in color (although some have color blindness) and that makes it feel natural for us to go and shoot with it. Seeing a certain color can remind us of something. It can make us feel emotions and remember moments in our life like summers of old or sunsets by the beach. It's like with flowers, you can't fully appreciate them just by smelling them, you have to see them in person, even hold them. We associate colors with a lot of things and that's a good enough reason to use them in photographs. Life is sometimes best experienced with all its pretty colors, don't you think?
How about you? How do you use color in your photographs? What do you like about black and white photography? Share your thoughts with us down in the comment section below!