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Black and White or Color? How To Decide

Have you ever been clicking back and forth on an image trying to decide if it should be in black and white or color? The colors in an image play an important role in the overall impact of the photograph, so deciding between black and white or color can be challenging at times. Hey there! I'm Christy with Photography & Wall Stylings by Christy located in Kansas City, and today I’m going to share with you 2 questions that will bring you back to the heart of photography and hopefully make this decision much easier for you in the future.

Kansas City family photography



See, Photography at its core is about emotion. As a photographer, I always ask myself what emotion can I pull out and capture in this particular moment. What do I want the viewer to feel when looking at this image?

Did you know that colors have specific impacts on our brains and emotions? Some colors, like green and blue, have a calming effect while other colors, like red and yellow, give off a high intensity vibe.

When you view a photograph with lots of yellow, orange, and red hues your brain automatically associates that image with a certain emotion. So, if you’re wanting a photograph that’s just bursting with happiness and laughter then by all means let those bright colors shine! In this case, the colors would be adding to and complementing the feeling of the photo. (This is pure emotional gold when thought out and planned before shooting. #feelallthefeels)

Best Friend Photo Shoot

(To view more of Kensie and Katie's BFF photo shoot click here!)

A black and white image, on the other hand, renders that immediate brain reaction useless which causes the viewer to gaze over the image a little longer in order to process exactly what is being seen. In other words, they tend to just get straight to the point of the photograph. There’s nothing else for your brain to focus on other than the raw details of the scene, therefore allowing you to decide how you feel based on the entire image and not just your brain’s initial response to the colors.

This is why breaking down the image in terms of emotions will help you decide if it’s best in full color or in black and white.

Kansas City Family photography


Sometimes the decision between black and white or color is driven by the emotion of the photo, or sometimes it’s simply to hide distracting objects in the background. (like say a pile of dirty laundry for example.) (Been there a time or two!)

If there’s a color in the background that’s drawing your eye toward it and off the subject, then making the image black and white will bring the focus back to where it should be.

Another good reason for turning an image black and white is to hide mixed matched or clashing colors in an image. (This is especially useful when taking photos of early morning cartoon watchers!)

Hopefully the next time you find yourself clicking back and forth between color and black and white you’ll remember these questions and be able to let the heart of your image shine through either in color or black and white.

Please feel free to share if you found this post helpful or know someone who would! ❤️


Photography & Wall Stylings by Christy

Where photography meets home decor in Kansas City!

For more info about Kansas City's natural light lifestyle photographer Christy Jones, click here!

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