The Atlantic Magazine published a photo piece earlier this week entitled: “50 Years Ago: The World in 1962”. It’s a collection of mostly black and white photos taken in 1962, that captures the essence of life in that long gone era.
Having been a child of the sixties, I was curious, and so spent a few minutes traveling back in time. Several things struck me as I did so.
One was the amount of turmoil the world was in. We sometimes think of the past in terms of “the good old days”, but this period in our history was overly burdened with racial, political and global challenges of significant proportion.
In many respects it was a simpler time, as evidenced by this early “portable computer”. This engineer predicted that housewives would be using handheld devices to assist with their shopping in a decade. He was off by a few years.
But I was also reminded of the power and the beauty of black and white photography.
A lot has been written about why black and white photos are so effective. A few thoughts of my own:
Before the advent of color film, all photography (and movies) were black and white, so I think there’s a nostalgic appeal, which might be one reason that B&W images posses a timeless quality.
Black and white photos have a simplicity to them. Without the distraction of a busy color palette competing for the attention of our eyes and brain, we see shapes and lines, expressions and emotions more easily. We can really feel a black and white photo.
And the light; after all, it’s all about the light.
Black, white and all the shades of gray in between allow the light to play off surfaces and highlights delicately.
All of the images in this post are from the Atlantic Magazine article, which I recommend is worth a few minutes of your time.
For some more thoughts and a few of my own black and whites, please check out this earlier 2 Guys post: “Seeing in black and white”.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on shooting in B&W, and what makes them interesting to you (or not). If you’d like to share your best black and whites, email them to us at email@example.com and we’ll post some of them here.
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