Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The Black n White Issue.

Image copyright Daido Moriyama

Image copyright Mark Page

Image copyright Susan Lipper

Image copyright Jason Evans
Black and White small format photography. I've been thinking a lot about it lately. There's been plenty of discussion about it online as well. Commentators and bloggers questioning it's value as a tool for photojournalism. It appears to have fallen out of favour with curators and galleries at least in the US. If it's not shot large format, preferably 10x8 in colour and blown up to the size of a house no one seems interested. I can't remember the last time I saw mono work by any emerging photographer (God I am beginning to get to hate that phrase!)
Take for instance Fjord http://www.fjordphoto.org/ which is a collective of young (not many born before 1980) photographers. Out of over 70 photographers only 2, Grady O'Connor & Nils Orth had work on the site that was black & white, other than the artists who stick in just a couple of mono's all Juergen Teller style. I've used Fjord as an example because many of the photographers are the rising stars of the Art photography world at least the American Art photography world. It's funny because O'Connor and Orth's work stood out for me as well, not only because it was mono but because well, it was a little different. Most of the work on the site is a bit, formulaic, samey. Maybe photographers shooting black & white are the new mavericks!
Here's an interesting articlehttp://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/blogon/2007/03/tip_of_the_tongue_a_new_intera.php I found courtesy of Reciprocity Failure http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com/ I know Stan's been thinking about similar issues himself.
This writing seems to be more positive about the future of Black & White and also talks about the current trend for big and colour.
As a foot note I've been photographing a series on Manchester in Black & White for almost a decade. When I started it, it just seemed the natural way to go if you were doing a serious documentary piece. I'm still working on it in Black & White, all be it now digitally. I've still got a year or two till it's finished, maybe by then things will have come full circle and Black & White will be back in vogue, the new Colour !
Featured photo's from
Oh yeah and Me!


Anonymous said...

Young photographers who aren't rich take enormous risks pursuing black and white: such work appears *less* likely to pay off in the short run.

mark page said...

I think their time will come.Photography is, compared to other visual arts pretty "fady" and mono will come around. All this large format colour banality will fade in time.