Black & White vs. Color

This is probably one of the best debates since color was introduced to photography: Black & White vs. Color photos. However, back then it was more which film should I add to my camera? You had to decide right then and there what you were going to choose before you even take the photographs. That is a lot of hoping on luck. Nowadays, we can choose to do this in post process (editing). You can even have one of both, if you really want to do so. 

With the option of having both, many potential or current clients would ask the question of what is better for my session? Which one do I prefer? Can I have one of both? All of these questions are going to be answered in this blog post. 

Which is better?

Honestly, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Some images look better than other in black & white versus color and vice versa. Trust me when I say it's not always easy choosing. There are some ways to help make this decision a little easier. First, we are going to look at some of the benefits and reasons why photographers use them both.


Color catches the eye. A bright hue that highlights an image’s subject will draw a viewer in right away. An image’s setting and time is inferred from its colors. Warm colors give context to an autumnal portrait. Cool colors portray winter. Lush greens show the viewer that the photo was taken in the spring. Mood can be communicated based on a photo’s color scheme. For example, a cold tone can elicit a feeling of sadness or loneliness, while a warmer tone might suggest tenderness or joy. Elements of color theory attract a viewer’s eye when used effectively. The ability to use complementary colors or analogous colors, for example, to emphasize relationships between subject matter is lost with black and white photography. (Photography Vox)

Black & White

Black and white images appear to be more timeless than color images. As evidenced by the color schemes produced by particular types of film or by trends in digital processing, color can sometimes suggest a specific era. Removing the color makes it more difficult to put an exact date on a photo. A lack of color in a photograph often accentuates the light and shadows. Backlit subjects and dramatic shadows are brought to the audience’s attention quickly in black and white images.

Many fine art photographers prefer black and white images for their tendency to distance the subject matter from reality. Humans see the world in color, and a rendition of the world in monochrome makes us pause and look closely. Removing color from a picture helps the viewer to focus on a subject’s emotional state. Black and white portraiture lets the audience see the subject’s face and read his or her eyes without distraction. (Photography Vox)

Which one do I prefer?

Both. It's not that simple. As you saw from the previous question each has its reasons. If the color is dull and boring, it may benefit to change it to black & white. But, that is not the only reason to change it. I may just want to make the photograph look timeless. The list could go on, and on. I want to make that decision when I am editing. So, during your viewing party, you may get a surprise or two in there. 

With that being said, I normally work in color. Just because I like to make the photographs look as real as possible and because we all see the world in color, I will lean towards that. 

Can I have one of both?

Sometimes. That decision will be made by me. If I give you the option to have the photograph in black & white, do not assume that I have it for you in color as well unless I give it to you that way. It is one way or the other for a reason.  


If you have any other questions or want to put in your own feedback about the black & white vs. color photography debate, let me know by contacting me here or commenting below. 

Kaytee Lorentzen
Owner | Kaytee Lorentzen Photography