If someone who hires a photographer doesn’t ask for black and white photos, should they be added to that person’s photos as the final product of the photoshoot? Should we even care about monochrome pictures anymore, or are they destined to die a slow death as a theme on Instagram pictures?
I left my last piece off with a few questions to tickle the minds of those who would absorb them. However, I clearly left the impression that I’d already answered my own questions. Before I lay the groundwork for an opinion, let me state a fact: art is not about right or wrong because there is no right or wrong art, only subjectivity. Surely then, though, if there is no right or wrong in art, there’s no right or wrong in a photo, right? Not quite. If art is created in the interest of the artist, all bets are off. However, if “art” becomes “what sells” in the eyes of an artist, there’s definitely a right and wrong. That right and wrong is dependent on who’s buying.
Why does all of this matter? Because art can sell, but art that’s created to sell is less “art” and more “product”. In the case of photography, a photographer can produce his or her art and attain a level of fame and satisfaction by listing their art as product for whomever wants it. For the latter situation, as I mentioned, the art must be created to the buyer’s satisfaction and expectation. If a photographer showcased their art in a gallery amidst the greats in a gallery in Long Island, the photographer’s opinion on how to create their art is necessary, and is arguably what the buyer of the art is looking for. If, however, a photographer is hired to shoot an illustrious wedding at a distinguished mansion in Hamptons of Long Island, and the wedding planner sees it fit to ask the photographer to capture the colors and essence of the home, there should be no question about whether black and white is an option. The answer is no unless it’s explicitly asked, or given by the photographer as a bonus instead of a part of the expected product.
That said, black and white art is dead. What matters in today’s world of photography is artistic depth. How much can you show? What does this photo say? Why does it say it? If the only way this can be portrayed is through the means of a monochrome photo, what does that say of the subject in the photo? Perhaps the subject of the photo should have been different to portray a point. Perhaps a multitude of settings on the camera themselves should have been changed prior to the photo, or the photographer’s photo editing skills could be used to achieve the same point.
There is no need to limit a photo to shades of one color. Not in today’s world. In years past, when color photography was not an option, the means of providing depth to an image was through the use and manipulation of monochrome images. It was not an option. It simply was. It was the one and only tool. Times have changed, and so have the available tools to a photographer. If one chooses to use them to perfect his or her art, so be it.
This new world comes with it a new arsenal of weapons. To still rely on monochrome in art is to bring a musket to a war. It is simply unfeasible.
If photography is art but art can be created in many different ways, not all art is created equal. Some is for the satisfaction of the artist himself, some is for the satisfaction of those who would subjectively agree, and some is for those who pay for a service provided by an artist.
The world was never painted in black and white; not the flowers or the sky, not the beach nor the forest. Not even the driest, most arid deserts of the world are one color. Perceptions of times’ past are simply perceptions to be left in the past.
Long Island Photography by Aakaash Bali