5 Choices to Make This Day - Mono or Colour!

In my last blog I talked about how I had got out of practice with my 'Street photography'. There is no doubt in my mind that street and possibly sport/action photography are genres in our art that need to be practiced, on a regular basis. Otherwise you get slow with your brain and eye reaction and you miss photo opportunities. But another thought occurred to me whilst writing that blog...

A decision at some time has to be made - Do I make the shot in colour or mono?

There have been very many comments made on this subject. The mono fans effectively say that the power of the image, the composition and the story is all the 'colour' you need. Some say that colour is a distraction. Whilst others demand colour to emphasise the point of making the photo, after all life is in colour! The masters Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Elliott Erwitt, Robert Frank and Sebastiao Salgado to name just a very few are considered major exponents of mono work in documentarist photography. But consider the colour exponents; Saul Leiter, Joel Mayerowitz, William Egglestone, Ernst Haas and Steve McCurry, they certainly prove the argument that colour work has a place.

So a decision has to be made whilst out shooting or do you at the outset of your photography, decide on which version Colour or Mono. I must confess I cannot decide. Here are some examples from my recent London walkabout, with some comments of mine.


What do you think?

The point of this image was to show the light from the smart phone on the users face. Personally I think it works better in mono as the colour backgrounds and the rubbish in the bottom left corner, has a tendency to confuse the viewer and overpower the point of the image. The yellow walls and doors are bright with the blue lights from the shop behind, attract the eye away from the story of the smart phone and the users face...

What's he reading? A map? A message?

These two ladies are studying the photo of the Queen. Here again the mono works better for me as the text of the bus behind confuses the viewer of the photograph.

Once again I think the mono image works as there are some small signs of colour slipping into view. The strong dome colour in the background and the red lorry passing Trafalgar Square. It was the bird taking off that I wanted to capture!

I have a preference here for the colour version, as I like the strong colour of the signage and the pale lemon colour of the arched walls of the theatre.

Where you are looking to make the viewer of the photograph concentrate on a face or particular aspect of the image (the story), I think 'Mono' photography works best. Here you could say that both images work but it has to be said that the shop window display and the shelving behind the readers, has some bright colours and do cause a distraction away from the people on the bench checking their maps and smart phones.


Neither style is right or wrong. In the end its 'in the eye of the beholder' and of course what the photographer prefers to work with!