Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rediscovering Black & White in “The Land Where Color was Born”!

My wife used to have a promotional slide show for her native country of Guatemala. It was called “Guatemala: The Land Where Color was Born.” Every slide was a saturated work of art.

In the twenty or so years I’ve been shooting photographs in Guatemala, also known as the “land of eternal spring,” I’ve had little incentive to work in b&w. I would say that Guatemala is arguably the most colorful country in the world, from the brightly painted churches and buildings to the traditional Indian costumes in the markets. Why then shoot in black and white when everything around you is a rainbow of color?

It took me a while to find out, but now half my work is black and white.

Sometimes when you see a picture, the colors are the story. Other times it’s what’s behind the colors that is the story.

Calla Lily, B&W, Antigua, Guatemala

Original Photograph

I shoot every photograph in color, then convert to b&w.  The calla lily remained in a folder for years because I never saw its potential in color.  It's only when I started thinking in B&W that I was able to give it character to stand as an exhibition quality photograph.

Textile Merchant, B&W, Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Original Photograph
The Textile Merchant could have worked in either black and white or color.  I preferred it in b&w.
I work with the photograph to make  the tonal range pleasing, to minimize the distractions -- but after all the work, it's about fine art that tells a story.  If you haven't already tried black and white, give it a try.  You might discover a new world.

Take a look at my website:

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