on being Black and White


The direct confrontation typical of the environmental portrait sacrifices the candid moment to allow the subjects to comport (behave) themselves.

-Walker Evans

…his restless interrogation of American society ranged far beyond the troubles of the Depression and continued to reverberate long after the 1930s…
-being, Walker Evans

-When I’m ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I’m interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.

-Ansel Adams

-Adam’s relation to nature was both aesthetic and mystical. Throughout his life he worked and lobbied to preserve the wilderness and the great vistas of the American West. 
-on being, Ansel Adams
“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
“A photograph is usually looked at- seldom looked into.”
― Ansel Adams
There seems to also be a great deal of debate between what I like to call…High Definition Technicolor Photography and, simple, Black and White Photography.
Course, many may not know, color photography has been around for over 150 years.  Those of us…who are similar to myself, who maybe self taught and/or had the privilege of parental influence.
Couldn’t ask for better timing with the above statement!  For the simple reason…my father who is a professional photographer prefers to photograph in color.  I, on the other hand, prefer, black and white.
Originally, as a child, I ate black and white up!  Black and white movies, black print, white parchment, black backgrounds…snow white…snow.   With little depth, I believed my attraction to ‘being black and white’ as, an infatuation to former times.
I clung to that belief for many years.  Forcing myself to practice…as my father did, in vivid and overly saturated technicolor.  Brilliant New Hampshire covered bridges spanning a frame.  Grabbing the attention of all who were admirers of that particular form of infrastructure.
As the days wandered into years.  As the simple drugs smoked turned into blotter dropped.  As visits from university security became more and more, frequent.
I have had to adjust.
It is not that black and white can be viewed as superior to the rainbow of colors found on a city-scape.  It is not that there is no gray…within, beings of black and white.
It is simply that black and white pulls, the photographer.  As though, there were a scant canvas, and the artist is pushing the viewer…the reader, to place his or her own feelings into the scenery.  To put it simply, black and white photography encourages the viewer to ‘fill in the blanks’.
Fifteen plus years ago, I had chance to sit, mouth open, at the Met.  I sat…for what seemed hours.  I sat with mouth slightly ajar and eyes pried open.
I sat…being heavily influenced by Diane Arbus-
masked child with doll diane arbus
What had I just seen?  What was angering me?  And, mostly, what is it about the photo…that had been making me grin from the inside out?
This is where I became a permanent member of ‘beings of black and white’!  I live, love and remain artful…via, being a black and white person.  To say, that the gray is hidden behind some prop found within the picture…would be a lie.  My life does indeed dabble in primary colors.  Yet, my courage, the beauty of my soul, believes; I am a black and white photograph.  I can see the stormy sky above as being an onyx, infinite being.  I can witness the moon’s hue on the freshly fallen white snow…as…a possible chalky path in which I may not pass.
But what I cannot see, and what I will search for…my entire life?  Are the, not obvious, colors which will make me cry.  And,  what is not seen visually…that I can manipulate in my mind.  Perhaps, the stars, the sodden footpaths, the shadow of a raven.   Black and white beings, hold on to what is not there!  They are similar to High Definition beings in one respect.  They are forever searching for balance.
 There are dissimilar in one distinct way:
Black and white photography demands the viewer to look at what is before them.  Yet, black and white photography, also stirs the viewer to look into what they are seeing.  To let the photograph be an infinitely changing being…dependent on how one is feeling for the day!

Black and white beings see, what it is, what it was and what they would like IT to be!