Jim Colburn...Don't Ask
Screw Black & White
Screw black and white. I'm fed up with it. The world's in color, TV's in color, magazines and newspapers are in color. So why the hell do so many photographers insist on continuing the agony by shooting their stories in black and white? 

They're lazy. If they shoot black and white, they don't have to worry about color temperature, fluorescent lighting or any of that annoying stuff. They don't have to get the exposure right, or the focus right for that matter. Any mistakes can be palmed off with the phrase "It's photojournalistic" and people will buy it. What? No grays in the photo? Not to worry, that's why it's called black and white....... 

They're pointlessly nostalgic. Photographers like shooting in black and white because they can dream of those "good old days" when Life and Look sent their staffers everywhere, when a $200 day rate let you live like a king and when pinning a note that read "Find the Porsche" to your expense report made you a hero to your peers. Well I hate to break it to anyone but if you look at a lot of back issues instead of the "Best Of" books you'll find that there was a lot of crap published in those "classic" magazines. Boring stories and boring pictures just filled the pages and lots and lots of Hollywood hype got printed that we'd classify these days as product placement. 

They like to worship at the feat of their heros, but they confuse the quality of the image with its black-and-white-ness. Sure. Capa did his great work in black and white but does anyone think he'd have turned down an 800 ASA color negative film that produced an excellent image? The hell he would. He shot black and white because THAT'S ALL HE HAD. Color meant 10 ASA Kodachrome for goodness sake. Tri-X hit the market as a "high speed" film and it was only 200 ASA. I'd venture a guess that if any of the great photographers, Bourke-White, Smith, Cartier-Bresson, etc. were starting out today they've welcome a roll of Fujicolor or Ektapress 400 with open arms and not even bother with black and white. 

Come on folks. It's 1999 and while we must take Prince's advice and party, we should also take the whole Turn-Of-The-Millennium thing as an opportunity to shed some of the 20th Century stuff that no longer has much of a point. Black and white is one of those things. 

P.S. If you REALLY feel the need for a black and white image just go Image > Mode > Grayscale > Okay. 

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed are barely my own much less my employer's so don't blame Time Magazine, Time Inc. or Time-Warner for anything written here. If you have to blame someone find the guy at Cadbury's that insists on making those Cream Eggs for only three months at a time instead of all year long.

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