The 2,200 photos I took on my recent European vacation reinforced three things I’ve realised over the course of my travels: (1) I love street photography, (2) I’m more than a little apprehensive of taking photos of strangers, and (3) I tend to convert most of my street photography into black and white.
I’ve said it often and I’ll say it again – colour can sometimes be distracting. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything or add to the photo if a man’s shirt is blue or a lady’s dress is green. If you take those details away, you’re more likely to pay attention to his or her expression or actions, and that for me is what makes the photo better.
You can also use black and white to focus on the details you think are important to the photo, like in the one below. The couple in the shadows in the foreground makes for a nice contrast with the Eiffel Tower lit up in the background.
The bright, bright street lights and dark blue sky were all I could see when the photo was in colour. That’s certainly not the case any more.
This certainly isn’t a rule, though. One of my favourite street photography blogs, Shoot Tokyo, has a large collection of colour photographs that are just absolutely incredible. In my own work, I made the deliberate decision to leave the photo below from Sri Lanka in colour.
It just wouldn’t be the same if the bananas were in grey, would it?