Day 69 / 366
When should a photo be black and white? I heard the question on a photography podcast a few days ago, and although no one could hear me, I said my answer out loud: “Most of the time.”
I like photos to have an air of unreality, and removing the color takes a big step in that direction. A couple weeks back, I was talking to an artist about her abstract prints, these very high-contrast black-and-white images that she could have created any number of ways. She told me they started as photos, and I was thrilled. “I’m tired of photos that look like photos,” I said.
Too many of my photos fail that test, which is why I haven’t picked up my camera very often in the past few months. It’s why I’m writing, not photographing, every day this year. I’ve grown less interested in depicting reality with a camera, and the experimentation that abstract photography requires isn’t in my wheelhouse yet.
On rare occasions, though, reality doesn’t need help from me or a conversion to black and white - it’s weird enough all by itself. We stumbled onto a scene like that the other day as we drove back from Borrego Springs in the Anza-Borrego Desert.
We’d never seen the Anza-Borrego Badlands before. Its canyons, especially through the dust kicked up by a windstorm, looked like something from another planet. Add a pretty wildflower on the rim of this bizarre landscape, and I was over the moon.
So I picked up my camera.