Why shoot in black and white?

I’ve always been a fan of black and white photographs.

But what is it about black and white photographs that’s so appealing? What does shooting in black and white add? Are there times when you should or shouldn’t use it?

Picture this: I was out walking in local woodland earlier this morning. It was 7am in mid May. The sun was already up and you could feel the change in the seasons. Spring was blossoming into summer. The birds seemed to be singing of its coming and the Bluebells were beginning to wilt.


In its beginnings, all photography was black and white. Colour photography didn’t really start to become popular until the Lumière brothers developed the photographic colour process, called the Lumière Autochrome in 1907.

Black and white photography therefore has a nostalgic dimension. It suggests a time when everything was simpler, before our lives became so cluttered with colour and distraction.

Without wanting to sound too maudlin, black and white hints at a time that has past, just as the Bluebells’ time is passing at the end of Spring, I wanted the black and white of the photograph to express that transience.

“Bluebells passing”

Greek Myth

Bluebells go by many names. They can also be referred to as ‘wild hyacinths,’ which recalls the Greek myth.

According to the myth Hyacinth was a lover of Apollo who died tragically when he was struck on the head with a discus. Apollo created the flower from his lover’s spilt blood. Like most Greek myths, you can take different meanings from it, but there is the suggestion that out of death comes new life.

A fitting message for the changing of the seasons.


Black and white is also a good way of creating mood.

Photography is all about making creative choices for me. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of a Bluebell is arguably its colour (it’s in the name after all). By taking away that colour in the photograph you effectively take away the flower’s most distinctive feature.

As one of my friend’s commented on social media “Beautiful greybells. Love this!” I liked how he turned the flower into something new with the play on words.

I like that new things are constantly born out of old things.

It’s not really an “Ending” – is it?

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