I am currently in Pondicherry in India feeling a little bit uninspired. During moments like this I find it stimulating to look at other photographers work. One photographer that has been on my radar in the past year is Daniel Milnor, particularly because of his great visual story telling skills along with his passionate use of self publishing media (in his case Blurb).
A lot of his work is black and white (the good old time honoured combination of Leica M6 and Kodak Tri-X). Browsing his photographs I am now in deep trouble, as I found myself going through some of my latest photographs looking for black and white interpretations. The moment I started doing this I felt this cold shiver in my body. Something I had suppressed for so long would not be suppressed any longer. Originally I fell in love with photography because of black and white. I had purchased myself a fancy digital SLR, but the images that I made with it did not really speak to me AT ALL. When I found myself a local darkroom, purchased some Ilford HP5 film and a second hand camera a love affair started. I simple loved the magic of the darkroom, and the quality of a well crafted silver gelatine print. Not to mention the excitement of making a contact sheet and exploring the photographs you had made. No LCD for instant feedback on analog cameras!
Throughout the years I have tried to print black and white digitally and although the technology has come very far, nothing compares to a silver gelatine print. So every time I make a black and white photo, and print it digitally it hurts me a little. However good the photograph might be I know that it could have been printed nicer in the darkroom. I think exactly therefore I started suppressing black and white photographs and focused more on colour work.
But now I opened an old can of worms. I love how black and white strips away the colour, and focuses your attention. The emotion of the scene, the textures, the geometries, they all become clearer. No colours to take away the attention from that moment. I am afraid I have opened a door that I closed many years ago, that simply will not shut itself. I see myself purchasing a Leica M6 again in the near future, even though I had just sold it. Thanks Daniel!!…. Actually I think for inflicting this suffering on me you should donate me one of your Leicas 😉 But also I realize that I am screwed because I cannot stop making digital black and white photographs, well knowing that I will hurt a little bit inside, every time that I print the image.
I have included a bunch of completely unrelated photographs, that all really did not work in colour, but I feel that they come alive once you strip away the colours. No masterpieces in any sense, but still little moments that deserved to be remembered.
Leave a Reply