Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Michael Kenna - Black & White vs Color Photography

Why Black & White?

Having my studio at The Torpedo Factory Art Center in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia for the past 14 years has provided a unique public venue for my work. One of the questions I am frequently asked is "why black & white and not color?" As most people know, I only work in black & white and have never been interested in working in color ... but why?       

 In a recent article published Black & White Magazine, British landscape photographer, Michael Kenna, known for his exquisite black & white images, was posed the question, "why black & white and not color?" For those not familiar with his work, Kenna works exclusively in black & white and makes his prints in the traditional wet darkroom. In an age when digital imaging allows for prints in enormous sizes, Kenna prints in only one size, roughly 8" x 8" ... and they are spectacular! His work is shown in museums and galleries around the world.

For me personally, his response as to why he works in monochrome vs color sums it up perfectly...

"Kenna’s old school outlook extends to his fidelity to black and white. Despite four decades of shooting in monochrome, he has no desire to experiment with color. Black and white, for him, provides an immediate interpretation of the world rather than a literal copy of what we see, where everything is in color. He finds black-and-white photographs to be quieter, subtler and more mysterious than those made in color, and thus more inspiring to the imagination of the individual viewer. Paradoxically, because they don’t attempt to compete with the outside world, black-and-white images persists longer in our visual memory. "

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