In the very early days of photography, there was no choice but for photographers to shoot in black and white, it was the only available medium. Then in 1936 the invention of kodachrome gave colour photography to the world, but black and white photography continued to flourish. Modern black and white photography at it’s best is an art form, and many photographers seem to regard it as the purest form of photography.
Certain situations and locations seem to particularly lend themselves to being photographed in black and white; cities, urban landscapes and architectural spaces for example.
We live in a world of bold and often striking colour, a colour photograph is a representation of the world though, it is not necessarily how you saw it, or how you experienced it. The same view can be photographed in a myriad of different ways.By using a medium that doesn’t depict the scene in a natural state, you free yourself to take the photograph how you see it. Not a depiction of the scene, but an interpretation.
A black and white photograph focuses the viewer’s attention, bringing elements to the fore that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. The shadows are highlighted, and the observer’s attention is drawn to the quantity and quality of light in the scene. There is I think a certain timeless quality to the images; think of the classic works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, or the dramatic nighttime images of Paris that were taken by photographer Brassai.