A Black and White World in Color

I cut my photographic teeth in a lot of respects by looking at Depression era black and white photographs by the Farm Security Administration. To me, black and white images define both photography and the world at that time. Perhaps that is why I found this collection of color images covering the same subjects from the same period incredibly compelling:


2 thoughts on “A Black and White World in Color”

  1. Hi Larry,
    You’re right with your observation. People tend to see black and white as images from forgotten era’s or as fine art. As we see the world as a colorful place, these monochromes pictures capture our imagination, as being not a part of real life.
    But when we are confronted with images that are really close to what we see every day, just because of the color, they become very real and have a deeper impact on us. Anyway, what struck me was that almost nobody has a smile on their face, only resignation. A few months ago I went to an exposition here in Antwerp about Belgian Congo, you know, the colonization. There were photographs, b&w, made at the turning of the 19th century. One sees the same gaze on the people.
    As with every art form, technique has to be used to pass the correct message. In photography this is b&w or color. Or even something in between.
    The images of your link… they struck me as a fist from Rocky because of the color, their world is so real.

    1. Thanks for the comments and observations Stephan. I had not noticed the lack of smiles on the peoples faces. I guess living in those conditions would make that difficult. Same thing with the Belgian Congo. It is quite interesting how color vs. black and white changes our impression of the images. In this case the color makes it seem more real, less abstract, although I’m not sure that is always the effect.

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