Nix the Color


It’s hard to imagine photographing the brilliant blue of a peacock’s feathers, knowing you are not going to show it, but sometimes the most colorful subjects are interesting in black and white instead. This image was the result of an assignment I gave one of my photo classes when we were at the zoo. The challenge: photograph whatever is in front of you at the moment, disregarding color and paying attention only to design.

I love color photography, but color can mask the shortcomings of a weak image. When a photograph is devoid of color, the design, line, motion, and/or emotion become more important. The composition must be strong and there has to be an element of visual interest which doesn’t rely on color.

I always consider the placement of line and pattern and how those elements interacts with the framework in which they are placed (i.e: the edges of the photograph); it is second nature to me, having been a photographer for so long. But we all, when new to photography, flounder for a while with our grasp of design and composition.

Color, as powerful as it is, can get in the way and slow down the growth of young photographers. I think students of photography should learn using only black and white, so that they truly learn to create strong imagery without the aid of color. Once their sense of composition is strong, they will have a foundation to which color can be added with greater success.

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

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