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Choosing Between Black and White or Color

photo retouching

There are a myriad of ways to go about do-it-yourself and professional photo editing services to enhance the pictures you take. Before you even get to any sort of photo retouching services though, you first have to decide what kind of hue you want the picture to be in.

Nowadays, most of the 300 million Instagram users that have shared well over 500 million pictures are familiar with the many different ‘filters’ the platform provides, but for professional photographers the decision is usually between black and white or color photos. Both serve valuable purposes depending on a variety of factors. Here are a couple tips to think about when deciding between the two during the photo editing process.

    • Highlight or Alleviate Attention: One of the best benefits of color photos can also be its biggest detriment. Color inherently catches the eye and can be used to draw attention to certain aspects or elements of the picture. By the same token, some pictures are more about a particular subject, which color can distract from.
    • Does Time/Mood/Climate Matter? Another easy way to know when you should choose color is if you’re trying to convey or capture things like the time, mood, or climate in the picture. Time is fairly obvious. It’s hard to tell if it’s night out when half the entire picture is black already. The same with climate/season/temperature, like the color of leaves for example. Mood can be a little trickier, but warmer colors tend to indicate feelings of happy and positive emotions, while colder hues convey the opposite.
    • Artistic Instincts: At the end of the day both options can be used in photo editing to produce quality pictures regardless of subject matter, setting, or purpose. Knowing which is “best” for a particular picture ultimately rests in the hands of the photographer or editor and their artistic instincts.

Professional photos are twice as likely to be shared as amateur ones, according to one recent study, but ample time should be given to making a decision like this whether you’re getting paid for them or not. If you follow the advice of photographer Ted Grant, that usually means black and white for people pictures and color when the subject matter is more broad.

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!” – Ted Grant