Photography has its fair share of rules. None of them are right or wrong however, and all of them have been beautifully broken on occasion by masters of the craft. Rules can be useful as guides to help us navigate certain situations or processes. Most rules began as someone's opinion before eventually becoming more widely accepted.
I have a few of my own rules which govern the way I create images. Buried beneath each rule are my rationalizations for why they make sense to me. I wanted to share one example with you today.
Somewhere along my journey in photography, I decided to avoid creating camera aware portraits in black & white. I couldn't tell you the exact date and there was no sign on the wall or proclamation. I simply stopped doing it. If you are wondering what I mean by "camera aware portrait", it's simply a portrait where the subject is looking directly at the camera.
Black & white images can be powerful and the absence of color allows greater flexibility to lead the viewer's attention where I want through lighting and contrast. A beautiful B&W image has the ability to transcend reality and connect with the viewer on an emotional level.
Our reality happens in color. At least for the majority of us. So when looking at a portrait of someone who is looking back at me, there is a connection there that is deeply human. As a portrait artist, I want that connection to feel as realistic and relatable as possible which means I'm going to choose to use color over B&W in that specific instance.
If I had to guess, I'd say I instituted this rule around 2007. I went through my archives recently, (all 1.2 Million photos) and noticed I didn't see anything like the top left image in the series below after 2007.