As a photographer, so long as I can remember, this is the most common question that I get when it comes to my photography works. Yes, I still can do photography, but time and time again, I always find myself picking up my black and white monochromatic Leica over my colour DSLR (yes, I do own a DSLR, but most of the time it is sitting idle at my beloved dry box).
If you notice, my earlier pictures has colour photographs (refer to #filiphilo album at my Facebook page). There is no doubt that colour photography is indeed very beautiful, and it is good for my photography business (4 out of 5 customer wants colour photography). With Leica colour photography rendition, the natural colour can be seen without being too inorganic or too digital. In a way it has the film colour photography look, something that Leica has done for the past 100 years and perfected the trade now.
However, despite all of those attractions, I still fall in love with black and white photography. Trying to put this emotion in words, I can simplify it into three main parts. Don’t worry, this is not a long essay like what I always did, just a summary.
There is a quote by the legendary Ted Grant, father of Canada photojournalism.
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”
This quote is the best word to capture my emotion and passion to capture moments in black and white photography. It is true to certain extend, although a lot of colour photographer might chide or even scoff at this statement. However, it does not affect me, not in the slightest bit. In my work, the main thing that I look for is that “decisive moment” – a moment that cannot be repeated any where else in this timeline, not with the current technological advances. I am not just capturing the moment, but I do my best to capture the soul of the moment, and the best way to convey this emotion is through black and white photography.
Sometimes, too much colour can take your attention away from the very soul of that photograph. But by being black and white, you take all of the chromatic distractions away, like a crucible, leaving only the gist, which is the soul of the photograph – the very thing I love to capture.
Black and white photography has been demonstrated that it is timeless. Why? Since the earliest day of photography in 1820s, the photographs were made in black and white. Perhaps in that time, they have no choice, and technology is not as good as it is now. However, ever since then, in the world of photography, despite the advancement of photography technology, black and white photography still holds its value. Not to mention if it is printed, the patina of the photograph adds value to it, making it much more valuable than ever before.
Some might argue that colour photograph is much more timeless, but for me, the value is still there, black and white photography printed then still has the same feeling as it is seen now. I love to capture this emotion in every single photograph that I made, be it in vintage sephia or silverish black and white.
In 2012, Leica introduced the world’s first dedicated monochromatic camera, which Leica M Monochrom, which was based on the last of the CCD sensor digital camera, M9. At first, a lot of people calls it a crazy move by Leica, but it turns out that it has the best dedicated black and white sensor, and by stripping of the colour sensor, it has an advantage and able to raise its ISO up to 10000, and still has that usable, grains. It appears to be emulating the classical black and white grains.
This is one of the key point that I love – with black and white photographs, your photograph can simply be outstanding. What I normally do with my black and white photographs is that I made it in such a way, it has the classical look, so that it is not just any black and white photograph converted from colour photograph. No, it is far more intricate than that. The way I render it is so that the emotion takes precedence in every other elements in that photograph, so that it can tell a story on its own and independently, becoming outstanding like no other.
Also, but doing your event photographs in black and white is a strong statement that you want to be outstanding and be different from the rest. Well, nowadays it is very common to have wide-angled, colour, panoramic pre-wedding photoshoot or events photographs. But how many want to make that strong statement that shouts – I am a unique person, bold and inspiring – without uttering a word at all. All only through your photograph.
In one of the events I have captured, it turns out the most unwanted incidents becoming the most memorable moments (yes, I am talking about Lerry and Cordelia – what a romantic moment!). Well, this is what I call, immortalising moments.
So there you have it, my three big why’s, which in acronym, can be remembered as S.T.O of Monochromatic (STOoM). I believe in capturing the most important moments in everyone’s life and in whatever moments that I handle, be it big or small, every moments of your life deserves to be treated as important as it can be possibly be. Money can be regained one it is lost, but time, once it is passed, it cannot be returned.
Make the best of your time and immortalise it. If you need help with your events, do let me know. Have a great day ahead!