Introduction - Why Black and White ? - And Other Thoughts



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Playa Del Carmen, Mexico 2000

Black and white photography has become increasingly popular in the last several decades. Why are we attracted to this medium?

The colors black and white have great symbolic value in our culture. Society reserves these fundamental parts of the light spectrum for important and formal events. In most cultures, white is the symbol for purity, birth and innocence. Brides dress and christenings are conducted in white. Black is the color of funerals, solemn events, and emptiness. In between there are unlimited shades of gray to define ordinary reality.

Cannery Row 1989

There is a certain abstract quality to black and white prints. The absence of "color" forces us to see things in a different light. Just as impressionistic paintings stimulate a different view of reality, the lack of color forces us to concentrate on other aspects such as composition, lighting, form and spatial relationships. Color often overwhelms the senses leaving many subtle aspects unrecognized. Most importantly black and white photography stimulates the imagination, in a fashion similar to a good book.

English Abbey , near the Scottish border, 1975

Photography is a visual means of communication just as music is an auditory form. To continue this comparison, mathematics is an intellectual and conceptual type of interaction. These three disciplines are very similar and related in that they rely on repetition, symmetry, asymmetry, contrast, symbolism, coherence, and sometimes a degree of irony.

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