Photography & text by Kevin Mullins
Jane Bown is one of my principal inspirations. Although her images were more portrait orientated, I still consider them to have great narrative and context well beyond a formal photograph.
The quote at the beginning of this article from Jane strikes a chord with me. The camera market these days is like a fast-moving train. Every month there seem to be new releases from all the main manufacturers; each proclaiming the newest camera will be better and faster and give you the ability to make better pictures.
And of course, from a technical standpoint, this may be true - especially for technical photography genres like Sports, Wildlife, Astro-photography etc.
Though the images that speak to me are always ones that have personality, depth, emotion and often..... no colour.
There is an element of ambivalence when it comes to colour for me. As a professional Wedding Photographer, I've built a brand based around a strong, contrasted monochrome look.
However, in a world of very visual social media, it's rare for clients to want 100% monochrome edits these days. When I speak to my clients about colour versus monochrome, I explain to them that an image without colour can make a moment more striking. Whereas an image with colour, can (not always), clutter the minds vision of the scene in front of them.
I think Jane Bown said it perfectly well when she said that all she needs is a Face and the Light. She was a master of natural light, and she worked with it, embracing it and understood it. I try to follow her pattern in my work. I try to work with the light, and not rely on the technology to make the image for me.
But it's always about the light. It has to be.
When I'm shooting, even if I'm shooting RAW, I will almost always have the cameras film simulation set to monochrome. This allows me to see the light and shadow more accurately. It's a technique that those of us shooting with electronic view finders can do very simply.
Colour is important of course for images where colour is part of the reason for taking the image. But for everything, there is black and white .....