In this section, we’ll include Monochrome Photography, Black and White Photography and Grayscale Photography.
This type of photography minimalizes the role of the color of the various elements of an image and seeks to create a mood or theme from the contrast, shapes and juxtaposition of the subject items to emphasize an overall impression. With the choice of monochrome, the photographer is often presenting an artistic or stylistic message.
Because natural color is removed, monochrome images are not realistic in the visual sense
In digital photography, monochrome images can be made by adding a single color filter intended for black and white photography, such as red or orange, to the lens while shooting a color image or by editing a color image by choosing grayscale or sepia while using image processing software. Using image processing software, you could also decrease the color depth of a color image to 256, 16 or 2.
The masters of photography that worked before the invention of color were, of course, also masters of monochrome photography due to the limitations of the technology of the time. In the early days of photography color images could only be made by a process of colorizing the image by hand.
However, long after the invention of the various forms of color photography there are photographers who think of monochrome as a viable option for their work. A popular example is Ansel Adams. Although much of his photographic work was in full color he is best known for his black and white scenes of American national parks. It seems Adams believed some subjects required the black and white format to render his message most accurately and expressively.
There are other masters of photography who are known for choosing monochrome when color was available. A partial listing, all worthy of further research, includes: Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Robert Frank, Yousuf Karsh, Dorothea Lange, Mary Ellen Mark, James Nachtwey, Irving Penn, Sebastião Salgado, Edward Weston and Margaret Bourke White.