Nowadays, taking a picture is something commonplace. We all have smartphones, different cameras, we add different filters. But do we really know what photography is? And what about black and white photography?
Generally speaking, photography is defined as “representing the world around us”. At the beginning of the 19th century, Nicéphore Niépce invented photography. He experimented with various light-sensitive varnishes and constructed cameras to capture the image. But he also had to find a way to make it permanent through a chemical process. In the end, he succeeded, and in 1826 or 1827, the first photograph was created.
The beginning of photography
At first, photography was just black and white. It was only in 1903 that Louis Lumière invented the Autochrome, which was the first functional and efficient method of colour photography.
For Remy Donadieu, famous French photographer, “black and white photography is the one that tells the adventures in colour.” But for most people, black and white photography rhymes with mediocre quality, old, and outdated. We know all the famous children’s quote that says, “Life had to be sad with our grandparents, they lived in black and white, I saw it in grandmother’s pictures.”
Nowadays, artists use black and white photography differently. Though photographers have been using black and white since the invention of photography, what matters today is the language. Beyond the technique, what is the intention? To do what? “Black and white is a technique used to try to reflect something that we see, feel and understand the world,” says Jon Lowenstein. “If it is not linked to a gesture, it loses its meaning. The important thing is how we tell our own truth about what we see.”
Black and white in photography? When and what for?
I asked Margarida Andresen, EVS volunteer and artist, to share some of her work with us. She did, and also expressed what black and white photography means to her. She said:
“These were pictures taken by me during the last four years of my life, in times of madness and in times of pure joy. Black and white
“Some of these pictures are originally black and white film, others were turned to black and white because it made sense. They have this really intimate connection with me, as if what I was seeing with my own eyes was already a picture that I wanted to freeze as a frame and to take it with me for the rest of my life, but with the convicted thought that they were past.”
All pictures and their descriptions provided by Margarida Andresen