Ever since the first monochromatic daguerreotypes came out in the 1800s, photographers have been experimenting with color in one way or another. The advent of true color captures not only came about through all their tinkering and experimenting, but it also brought about the choice – to go color or not. In this day and age of digital photography, many might wonder if the choice is even worth discussing, as we can now capture colors more clearly and accurately than ever before. Let’s look at the answers and let you decide for yourself.
Color photography can be very useful, whether published in print or online. Color catches the eye. It is considered more appealing and attractive by many people than black and white or other monochromatic renderings. Color can convey the message of your story or webpage better, as well. If you are showing off your new offices, for example, or your new product, it would make sense to exhibit them in all their real, colorful existence. Color can also evoke an emotion. Joy, happiness, contentment, anger, love – all have colors easily associated with them. Want to show the happiness your services can create in the lives of others? Then bright, shiny, color-filled images are probably the best. So, with all that color photography has to offer your print materials and online properties, is there any use to using black and white photography at all?
Black and white (or other monochromatic) photography can and does have its place in commercial photography settings. Black and white photos show off the texture and contrasts – lights and darks – of the subject much more clearly than color images ever can. So, if you want to show these aspects more than the subject itself, black and white is your answer. Black and white, and sepia-toned photography too, can appear more timeless, more classic. We tend to associate it with days gone by, and perhaps even with bygone glamour and/or innocence. Does your business have a classic, timeless feel? Then black and white may be the answer for you.
What about your background? With print materials, your background probably doesn’t matter as much, but with online properties and platforms, backgrounds can be very busy and colorful. Black and white photography may make your images stand out and be more visible. And let’s talk about emotions for a moment. Black and white photography can, as we said, evoke a sense of nostalgia. It can also convey sadness or seriousness, too. If you’re covering a life-or-death seriousness type of subject, or a tragic sadness, then black and white images may be better suited to your purposes. Black and white photography is also considered by many to be more “artsy” than using color.
Ultimately, it is the message you wish your final product – brochure, website, press kit, etc. – that will determine whether to use color photos, black and white images, or a mixture of both. Your professional photographer may also have some suggestions as to what type of image to produce for each scenario or setting. The world may be in all living color, but your photos don’t always have to be.