Black And White Photos

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Black and white photos combine the aesthetics of fine art with the objective eye of the professional voyeur. Paintings often suggest a scene that is paralyzed only as long as you stand before it. Photography, however, freezes that moment, arrests it, definitively. Some of the most startling and moving examples of art in the 20th century were creating not by Abstract Expressionists, Impressionists or Surrealists, but rather photographers ready at, as Henri Cartier-Bresson said, "the decisive moment."

Black and White Photos: The Decisive Moment

Sports and journalistic photography have captured forever some of the most indelible images of our collective memory. The flag raising at Iwo Jima, or the moment after Roger Marris struck his 61st home run, for example, are both flashes out of history. His body sags with relief, the catcher looks up to the sky to double check, and the crowd for a moment is frozen. You can hear the silence.

Black and white photos of nature are astounding in their power. Examples can communicate perfect peace, as in Ansel Adams' Pine Forest in the Snow. Or it can speak of pure power, as in his Bridal Veil Falls, where the water crashes dramatically, the spray rises violently, and the unchecked beauty of the falls is communicated crystal clear.

Dance and figure photography can be either charming, erotic or both. The dancers of 1920s Paris are particularly endearing as they strive to outdo each other in their grace and beauty. Herb Ritts' black and white photos of seaside nudes are eloquent in their celebration of the beauty of the human body.

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