Why Black & White Photography? (The LEICA Theory & The G-Zone)™

I have been recently asked by several people about my vision in photography, psychology in photography, and why I chose to focus on black and white photography.  Although I have answered this question in several interviews, I want to venture into something a bit different from my thoughts around the timelessness, authenticity and associations that black and white photography has with fine art that make it so special to me.  One way to reconsider this style of photography is to consider a concept (not the great camera brand) that I refer to as the “LEICA Theory” of black and white photography.  We often think of the eye as a camera.  However, when we consider our own physical vision, our brain translates raw reality into lines, edges, intersections, contrasts, and angles (notice the acronym) readily before we can perceive and make sense of what we are seeing. This is something that neuroscientists have demonstrated empirically (and won a Nobel Prize for it) and it may be the reason why black and white photography often offers such primal emotions, aesthetic qualities, and an eternal essence for artists.  It may also be the way we shape the compositional ingredients of RAW reality of our photographs to convey a felt aesthetic in our own psychological or photographic vision before or after post-processing.  I think that is why abstract and architectural photography, to name a few, can be so powerful at times.

The other thing that makes black and white photography (B/W) appealing to me is the gray zone (G).  Perhaps this type of photography should be best classified as BGW photography. I think we have to pay more attention to how to best unweave the rainbow of colours into equally powerful gradations of contrasting grays in our photography to convey an intensity that vibrates against the combination of all colours (black) and the complete absence of colour (white).  Gray tones can offer a really pleasing and interesting interpretative effect in photos. The contrast between black, white and the grays can convey such mood and motion and a simplicity born of complexity in photographic vision.

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