Since I can remember I’ve loved the aesthetic of black and photographs and movies, maybe it was the glitz and glam of vintage movie stars like Rita Hayworth, Jayne Mansfield, or the super cool James Dean? Maybe it was all the iconic shots of Elvis, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix? Whatever the case there is an undeniable beauty in the black and white photograph that had a profound and lasting influence on me. The truth is some of the most iconic photographs ever taken are black and white, think Joe Rosenthal’s 1945 photograph of U.S. troops raising a flag in Iwo Jima during World War II.
What is it that makes these images so powerful? Why in an age of digital imagery, and robust camera sensors with incredible imagery would monochrome photography still have a place? Perhaps because like the older Gentleman that drives his completely restored 1956 Ford Mustang, we just see beauty in it. The textures and forms enthrall is in ways we would’ve never noticed without the absence of color. The stories and mood capture our imaginations time and again.
When done correctly it can be striking and unforgettable. In a world where black and white is merely an editing afterthought the art has become lost but not dead. There remain those of us who carry the banner for Photography’s oldest and most endangered art-form, the ones who understand what noir truly means and have embraced its capacity to convey mood and alter perceptions. We are few but what we represent will forever have meaning in the world of Photographic art because we don’t make photos black and white we make black and white photos.