It's a question that's reared its head occasionally over time with me. And it's something I've mostly got my head around, but not completely.
My music photography work is well known now. People tell me my monochrome style is distinctive and recognisable. My style is based around a carefully thought-out recipe that I have devised using the Kodak Tri-X film stock emulator in Nik Silver Effects. I use this emulation as a base preset and then adapt it to suit my taste, adding sepia toning and vignettes occasionally. My taste has always been driven by the photography that I grew up loving in the music magazines that I read in my youth.
Kodak Tri-X film is always my go-to film stock when I work in that medium. It was used by all the greats of music photography and photo-journalism.
In the interests of diversifying I've started looking at colour again, and I'm actually quite liking it in certain situations. The problem I generally have with colour is that when you have a scene that has many colours in it, they can distract the eye from the subject of the scene. The colours may be non-complimentary and that jars with me. Also, there may be commonplace items in the scene, especially at gigs, that add nothing to set the scene and are just plain ugly. How many times have you seen a red fire extinguisher hanging on the wall to the side of a band? That will stand out strongly in a colour photograph and distract your eye.
In monochrome, colours are rendered to various shades of grey. There is no clashing of non-complimentary colours when everything is shaded from black to white. Items in the scene are viewed based on tone and pattern, form and texture. Objects that are strong in these elements can be elevated in the scene. If the photographer has captured the moment well, these elements will make the scene much more visually interesting. If a guitar player is making shapes with their body, their form is going to register as a strong element in the image, and if they are wearing something with a strong pattern, that adds even more visual interest.
And as for that ugly fire extinguisher, it's that grey object that's still on the wall, but it has blended nicely into the black wall rendering it near invisible.
Having said all that, colour has it's place and I think this image taken last week of Sam Whitlock with The Montgomerys demonstrates that colour can be effective in certain circumstances when it adds interest without distracting from the scene.
I have found a range of analogue film emulators that I intend to work with from now on with my colour work. This is a Kodak Portra emulation which I like a lot. I'm hoping my colour work will become as distinctive as my monochrome work. Here's hoping.
If you have any comments, please leave them in the box below and let's have a discussion.
Adios for now Cajonisters...