Last weekend I strolled through the city and captured an early carnival event. A strange experience, though – because I worked for newspapers and agencies for more than ten years, including the annual coverage of all kinds of carnival processions. Reason enough that I refused to take any photographs of the carnival season for a long time. Nothing could be less funny for a photographer than being stuck in the middle of a crowd in masquerade, surrounded by people having fun grabbing for camera gear or showering photographer and lenses with beer. Completely unexpected I regained the joy of photographing people in colorful costumes, on the streets. And certainly I’ll be back and into new discoveries this carnival season!
A rather interesting thought struck me, when I came back to the office and started into my choices among a dozen photos. I found myself torn between the different possibilities of color and black and white. Partly I still wonder which one I prefer. The colorful above? The B&W below? Same photograph, different edits, same situation; both are identical in lighting and crop, they show a joyous moment of sound and music. The first photograph is focused on color and costumes; it’s a nice shot of a street scene, with a slight reduction in saturation. The second B&W image turns into something completely different: It is not about outward appearance, it is about people, gestures and atmosphere. Additionally the absence of color leaves enough space to inspire the beholder’s imagination. In some ways this means for me a peaceful rest amidst tons of technicolor pics of any provenience.
The reason why I finally prefer the black and white version of the image: Since my photographic education at Lette Verein Berlin I’m addicted to B&W photography. „A bright white with still visible structures, a dark black with still visible structures as well“ were the parameters of perfection in printing. These skills were the basis for my first newspaper assignment: The former picture editor saw my portfolio prints, handed me without any explanations some negatives and asked me to print them for him. Cropping, dodging and burning, with all those darkroom tricks I managed intuitively to print exactly what he wanted to have. I got the job and always had my own darkroom at my office. It was only after I started with digital photography that I didn’t print myself anymore.
After years of experience in printing and editing on the computer, I now produce the same high quality of B&W as in my former darkroom time. My colleague and dear friend Charlie, who prints now my photos, is a true genius: To know each other for more than 20 years means also to know the idea of every single image, my intention and personal style and – as a result – the way how each photo has to be printed.
Now it’s up to you: What are your ideas about color and B&W? Do you prefer one of them? What are your individual reasons? Do you make a difference in view, concerning the aspect of color? I’m looking forward to your opinions and suggestions; please feel free to comment!
Photo: ©HeikeRost.com, 19.01.2013 – All rights reserved.