There is the joke that every photograph becomes “art” if it is in black and white. The joke exists for a reason – a lot of pictures that are boring in color become much more interesting in black and white, taking on a new life.
Even though I am a magpie, and am continually drawn to bright colors, the fact is, in art, colors can often confuse me and distract me when I try to work with them. Paintings end in disaster because of a lack of self-control, and nowadays, a lack of experience and skill.
Maybe that is why I keep coming back to sumi-e – there are not the decisions to make about color, but only gradation and loading the brush.
When I think about what I like in black and white photography, it varies. One thing which I love in B&W is its graphic nature. In contrasty pictures, lines can make the eye wander in and out in ways color does not.
Color is subtle, and more luxurious. Soft B&W, with long scale and low contrast, is akin to color because it is more dreamy, and requires more emotional investment.
I like the drama of contrasts which, for me, is the same as a loud noise – startling, awakening, even traumatic.