40 Famous Black and White Photography Quotes

famous black and white photography quotes

Here is a collection of some famous black and white photography quotes and sayings to inspire you on your way to creating excellent images – the simplicity of these messages speak for themselves:

“Colour is everything, black and white is more.” – Dominic Rouse

The world is in color, you have to work at black and white.”– Andrew Maclean

“To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.” – Andri Cauldwell

“I’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors is black.” – Henri Mattise

“Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.” – Robert Frank

Famous black and white photography quotes

“In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.” – August Sander

My philosophy, like color television, is all there in black and white.” ― Monty Python

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

“One very important difference between color and monochromatic photography is this: in black and white you suggest; in color you state. Much can be implied by suggestion, but statement demands certainty… absolute certainty.” – Paul Outerbridge

Life isn’t black and white. It’s a million gray areas, don’t you find?“― Ridley Scott

Things are not quite so simple always as black and white.” ― Doris Lessing

Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but black and white films still hold an affectionate place in my heart; they have an incomparable mystique and mood.” ― Ginger Rogers

Famous black and white photography quotes - The Decisive Moment

Which is probably the reason why I work exclusively in black and white… to highlight that contrast.“― Leonard Nimoy

I think it’s because it was an emotional story, and emotions come through much stronger in black and white. Colour is distracting in a way, it pleases the eye but it doesn’t necessarily reach the heart.” ― Kim Hunter

In the beginning it was all black and white.“― Maureen O’Hara

I work in colour sometimes, but I guess the images I most connect to, historically speaking, are in black and white. I see more in black and white – I like the abstraction of it.“― Mary Ellen Mark

In tragedy, it’s hard to find a good resolution; it’s not black and white: it’s a big fog of gray.“― Paul Dano

Let’s assume that all the cassettes of monochrome film Cartier-Bresson ever exposed had somehow been surreptitiously loaded with colour film. I’d venture to say that about two thirds of his pictures would be ruined and the remainder unaffected, neither spoiled nor improved. And perhaps one in a thousand enhanced.” – Philip Jones Griffiths

There’s something strange and powerful about black-and-white imagery.” – Stefan Kanfer

The world is not black and white. More like black and grey.” – Graham Green

Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash.” – Louis Aragon

Do you know what will soon be the ultimate in truth?—photography, once it begins to reproduce colors, and that won’t be long in coming. And yet you want an intelligent man to sweat for months so as to give the illusion he can do something as well as an ingenious little machine can!” – Paul Gauguin

Photography has always been associated with death. Reality is colorful, yet early photography always took the color out of reality and made it black-and-white. Color is life; black-and-white is death. There was a ghost hidden in the invention of photography.” – Nobuyoshi Araki

Color is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive.” – Elliott Erwitt

Many photographers are apt to confuse color with noise, and to congratulate themselves when they have almost blown you down with screeching hues alone—a bebop of electric blues, furious reds, and poison greens.” – Walker Evans

Color tends to corrupt photography and absolute color corrupts it absolutely. Consider the way color film usually renders blue sky, green foliage, lipstick red, and the kiddies’ playsuit. These are four simple words which must be whispered: color photography is vulgar.” – Walker Evans

Black-and-white photos tell the truth. That’s why insurance companies use them.” – Allan Sekula

In black and white there are more colors than color photography, because you are not blocked by any colors so you can use your experiences, your knowledge, and your fantasy, to put colors into black and white.” – Anders Petersen

Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.” – Ansel Adams

One sees differently with color photography than black-and-white… in short, visualization must be modified by the specific nature of the equipment and materials being used.” – Ansel Adams

Personally, I enjoy the simplicity of these quotes, many of them are valuable tips that could be applied to life and friendship lessons if we take the time to study the deeper meaning of these messages – life not being entirely black and white is something that we learn as we grow, and these quotes sometimes metaphorically provide the perfect captions in defining moments of our lives.

Share this list of awesome and inspiring black and white photography quotes and sayings to your friends!

Visit also my top inspiring photography websites to jumpstart your photography inspiration!

If you are keen to kickstart your black and white photography, here are some recommended best in class cameras:

1) Ricoh GR II Digital Camera

2) Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246)

3) Fujifilm X100T 16MP Digital Camera

4) Sony A7R II

Recommended Books:

1) Digital Black & White Landscape Photography

2) Black and White: From Snapshots to Great Shots

3) Black and White Photography Field Guide: The essential guide to the art of creating black & white images


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  1. Sunil Khatri November 15, 2016 at 2:23 am #

    I like your photography black and white status

  2. Prathyush Trishal December 3, 2016 at 1:23 am #

    Take the black and throw white, but you stay gray.

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