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Do You See the World in Color or Black & White?

I am a very colorful person. I love bright, vibrant color. I often wear bright color accessories, love bright clothing on my kids, and just love color all around me. This love for color comes through in my photography too. I tend to express myself better in color.

So I got to thinking, do most people see the world in color or black and white? What makes you happy? When you shoot, do you imagine a color photograph or a black and white one? And if you prefer color, do you usually visualize in bright colors or pastels and more muted colors?

Every once in a while when I am editing, I decide to convert the photo to black and white. It usually is a struggle for me. The conversion itself is easy, but as I look, it rarely feels right. My work (99% of the time) feels right in color.

When viewing other photographers, I do sometimes feel they are “black and white” and that fits them. Sometimes a black and white photo takes away all distractions and allows for more emotion and focus. But still most of the time, color grabs me. It wins me over.

So next time you run to convert your photo to black and white, ask yourself why you are doing it. Is it because you see it in black and white? Or is it because your color was off and giving you problems. There is no right or wrong. But when you choose to have a photo as a black and white, a vivid color shot, or a vintage, ask yourself why and make sure you are choosing what feels right to you.

I would love everyone to share your images on the MCP Flickr Group in color and then black and white – tell us which you prefer, which speaks to you, and why.

I have shared a few of mine here, and would love your opinions of these as well. You already know how I feel about mine…

untitled 1 Do You See the World in Color or Black & White?

untitled 2 Do You See the World in Color or Black & White?

 

untitled 3 Do You See the World in Color or Black & White?

 Do You See the World in Color or Black & White?

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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25 Comments

  1. 1

    I love them both BUT I am a b/w girl :)
    Not sure why but 98% of the time, that’s what I am drawn to!

  2. 2
    Kristie says:

    I almost always prefer my own images in color, as well … especially if I’m managed to get the lighting just right. But, as a scrapbooker, sometimes there’s nothing to be done about it … too many clashing colors to coordinate nicely with the layout I want to do. Or maybe its an awesome set of red and green embellishments I want to use on my Christmas page, but maybe my nephews showed up for Christmas dinner dressed in orange and blue and brown. So, I’ll convert the photo to black and white, so its more flexible in scrapbook mode — one reason that black and white can work better. But like you, I still normally prefer the print in color.

  3. 3

    […] 1 votes vote Do You See the World in Color or Black & White? Do you see the world in Color or Black and White? I am a very colorful person. I love bright, […]

  4. 4
    Alexandra says:

    I love color too :) Nice post.

  5. 5

    When I “view the world”, I mainly see it in color. It really depends on what I’m looking at or photographing if I can envision it in vivid or muted colors. There usually is at least one or two photos that I’ll take in a session or photo outing that I can immediately see that would be fabulous in B&W. Why, because of either how I feel when I take that photo (maybe it struck me as being something emotional or certain details of the image would be striking to me). I definitely think it’s a preference to the photographer or artist. :)

    As for your images, for your first one of the little girl, I think the color works better because my eyes are immediately drawn to her eyes and then I notice the vibrant colors (which I love)! Then in the 2nd image, I think the B&W works better. Why? Maybe it’s her surroundings but with the color, my eyes almost search the photo to see what’s around her. With the B&W, my eyes are a little more drawn to the subject first, rather than what is around her. For the last one, definitely the B&W. The color is nice too but with the B&W, it almost has a serene look to it, like you can almost hear the silence before she plays. UR waiting with anticipation to hear the first chord of her song because you sense how intensely she is playing (or trying to play). I know, may sound corny but that’s what I see. ;)

  6. 6
    Marci says:

    While I do love color but there is something so timeless and classic about black and white~ and not every photo lends itself to b&w conversion. In the last image, while the color is sweet, the color of the guitar and pattern on her shirt also date the image instantly. The b&w makes you wonder how long ago it was taken. And in an image without logos/pattern suddenly it’s all about the moment and what the person is doing. Fun stuff!!

  7. 7

    I definitely see the world in color! It is also a struggle for me to want to convert a photo to black and white because I just love the color so much. :) Beautiful photos.

  8. 8

    Typically, when I photograph, I see the world in color. Mostly vivid colors but once in a while, muted. But when I am on a photo outing, session or wedding, there are definitely some photos that I can immediately know that I will create it in B&W. It has to do with the mood I’m feeling, the emotion that may happen at that exact moment for the photo or maybe just has fantastic contrast to the portrait or scene that would create a wonderful mood to the photo.

    For your photos you posted, the first one, I def think the color works best. I love the vivid colors and my eyes are immediately drawn to her eyes.

    For the 2nd one, I think B&W works best. I think the surroundings have to do with that. Nothing wrong with them but with the color version, my eyes seek what is all around the photo, rather than to the subject first. With the 2nd one being B&W, I’m more drawn to her, rather than what is around her. Does that make sense?

    For the last one, I def have to say B&W. The color one is cute but with the B&W, you can almost sense the serenity of this portrait. I can hear the quiet moment that every parent anticipates just before she plays her first chord and you can see how intensely she is playing (or trying to play). I know, it may sound corny but that’s my interpretation of it. ;)

  9. 9
    Morgan G. says:

    I tend to use B&W when I can’t get the color to look right. It tended to be a last ditch effort to save photos. But it works, because I tend to fall in love with them afterwards.

  10. 10

    I’m definitely a colour girl, too, and especially for children’s portraits. I will often convert about 25% of my wedding images to black and white, but for family portraits, I almost always prefer colour. I tend to use black and white primarily when competing colours are drawing attention from the subject, but with portraits, we plan around that, so it’s not necessary. Every once in a while, I see a photo that is great in colour, but that I think would be stunning in black and white, but that’s rare. I just prefer colour.

  11. 11

    i like it both ways…but often struggle to choose a colour over a b&w

  12. 12
    laura says:

    for your set of images the first two work best in color – the vibrant colors lend to the vibrant environment. the last image is better in b&w because it draws me to her and the instrument only.

  13. 13
    Pam says:

    I do both. Just depends on the subject matter. I always show clients a color and b&w version. They will usually mix them. Black & white must have strong contrast to appeal to me, otherwise it doesn’t work.
    Jodi, I love your examples and vote for color on the first two, but the one with your daughter and the guitar…..black & white version is my pick!

  14. 14
    Nicole Lamb says:

    I love both color and black and white. I probably do slightly more in color though. I love bright, vibrant colors also.
    For your pictures I prefer the first one in b&w because to me that one is all about her eyes. The color one is pretty but there is more going on. The b&w just makes her eyes stand out so beautifully!
    I like the other 2 in color more. I think it is because I like the pink in both of them.

  15. 15

    i always prefer color for my photos too.

  16. 16
    Cyndi Henry says:

    I’m all about the color! I love it bright and vibrant, color just makes me happy! I also struggle with converting to b/w, sometimes I love it but usually I prefer the color. I never shoot with the intent of converting a image to b/w.

  17. 17
    Chrystal says:

    I do love color…bright, bold, happy color! However, black and white strikes emotion within many times over. I think it is because the focus on the image is evident and all other distractions disappear.

  18. 18
    Liz says:

    I love color! I understand exactly what you mean about converting your images to b&w not feeling right, altho other photographer’s b&w images always seem so evocative. I love all your images in color – especially the last one. You lose the “girly” if you change it to b&w!

  19. 19
    Kerry says:

    I’m really a colour person and on the whole I can’t understand why people would want to shoot all in black and white.

    With regards to your photos: on the first one the green background draws my eye away from the little girl whereas with the B&W my eyes are focused soley on her. Both work well but less distraction in the black and white.

    The second image colour works best.

    The third image, definitely the black and white as it isolates the little girl and makes her the sole subject of the image.

  20. 20

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  21. 21
    Amy says:

    I am definately a color girl. Which is funny because I love to look at black and white pictures. However, when I take sessions, I try and find places and lighting that brings out the most color. Every once and awhile I will shoot and picture thinking it would be better in b/w. Luckily the person i shoot weddings sees in b/w and I see in color, so when we work a wedding our styles compliment each other really well!

  22. 22

    That first B&W is especially striking! I do both. There are some times when I’m sorting through (or even when I’m taking the photo) that I just KNOW that it has to be in B&W (or some variation on that…my fave action right now is called Black and Whitish). Other times I’m just experimenting to give the client options. :)

  23. 23
    Amanda says:

    99% color. If I turn a photo black and white it is either for variety in a series or b/c something in the color is being problematic. I just love simple, clean color.

  24. 24
    MCP Actions says:

    Thank you everyone. It is so interesting to hear the varied opinions.

  25. 25
    Sherri SW says:

    Oh boy I LOVE this question – this is an easy one for me – I LOVE Color so much that I think am addicted to it – LOL
    I still have a child-like imagination so sometimes I think I see the world in Crayon colors – LOL
    I tell my husband all the time that buildings & houses NEED to be MORE colorful – and sometimes I am tempted to go around painting the town up in a Technicolor dream – LOL but I have self-control – haha
    needless to say that when we buy our dream home IT WILL BE COLORFUL INSIDE & OUT :)

    As for my work , probably 99% of the time it is Intense, juicy, YUMMY COLOR !! LOL Anyone who knows me knows that is no surprise (you should see my wardrobe – I rarely wear anything black or white )

    I do like B&W images & sometimes find ones that I absolutely LOVE – usually of other people’s work -LOL but I too kinda feel a little OFF when I convert most of my photos to B&W’s yet SOME of my photos were obviously meant to be B&W’s because they looked too funky in color or the composition was just screaming for it – LOL so I try to keep an eye out for those images that were just BORN to be B&W – usually the FEW that do make it to B&W are really special to me & I wont save them in color at all.

  26. 26
    Barb Ray says:

    I would say I see in color…very much in color…however, I absolutely love to see photos in black and white. They grab me…it’s interesting. I think they grab me more because it is like a shock to my system since I do see in color. I can appreciate both very much…but sometimes really prefer the b&w over the color…interesting topic…glad you did this! :o)

  27. 27

    I’ve always been a b&w girl- but- with that said- spring ’09 when I upgraded my camera and got hooked on your actions- color took on a whole new meaning for me- so I’m a color convert. :)

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