Colour is something that has been coming more and more into my photography as time goes on. I have questioned why this should be? After some thought I believe it is a conceptual thing, meaning I approach colour photography in a completely different way to how I approach mono-work. With black & white photography it is for me all about the subject, the composition, the framing; these are the things that seem important. With colour I approach it from a viewpoint that seems at odds with general thought about how one should go about such things. By that I mean, with colour I am simply photographing the hue, the colour itself, things like composition and subject matter seem less important.
It seems to me that whether a shot is coloured or monochrome can have implications of how our minds perceive it, the stories we make-up in our minds whenever we see an image can be twisted by both light, shade and hue. Does the photograph do this, or is it our own thoughts and backgrounds, our own personal histories that shape the story? Maybe it is a little bit of both. With colour, in my opinion, there is less of a story and simply a bodily connection to the colours themselves, certain colours make us feel different things, different emotions. It is also worth considering that many of us also have personal preferences, some prefer the red of poppies or the blue of the sea for instance. With me I don’t believe I favour one over the other, but more that I am attracted to pastel shades in general rather than more gaudy hues.
I also enjoy colours in isolation (this is where the lack of composition comes in). I may see a yellow chair isolated against a grey wall, or maybe a single green light in a window. In instances like these I take little to no time worrying about framing and such, I just want to capture the colour as I see it now before the light changes and the shot is lost. So as you can see my thought process with colour and BW is at odds with one another. But I like this, I don’t try to fight it, to me if I tried to think more about my colour shots then they would lose something, they would simply become an image of composition rather than an emotive reaction.
So to answer the original question, It is only since I have come to these conclusions that colour work has begun to hold a bigger fascination for me. I have even started to look back through previous BW work to see how they look as the original colour shots, and in some cases been pleasantly surprised to find something new that I hadn’t noticed in them before. On a side note I would also like to say that there seems to permeate a kind of snobbishness in photography that says that colour work is not as worthy as the more classic mono-images that hold such a lofty position, it was after all what the masters shot? To me it is not which is more worthy, but more what individual images say to us on an emotive level.
In this regard we only have to open our minds and soul to see that… colour has much to say.