Black and White Photography Quotes (My Top 15 List)

If you want to know my favorite black and white photography quotes, you’ve come to the right place.

Black and White Photography Quotes (My Top 15 List)

Black and white photography can be a beautiful way of expressing an image, and many prolific photographers and artists have expressed their thoughts on the matter.

Whether you’re a fan of black and white photography or looking for some inspiration for your photography, these black and white photography quotes are sure to resonate.

Black and White Photography Quotes

Here are my favorite 15 black and white photography quotes!

1. Mary Ellen Mark on the Abstract of Color

Mary Ellen Mark on the Abstract of Color

“I work in color sometimes, but I guess the images I most connect to, historically speaking, are in black and white. I see more in black and white – I like the abstraction of it.”

– Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark was an American photojournalist who was well-known for her documentary photography. She won many awards and specialized in photography outside the world of mainstream media. 

2. Ansel Adams on Life and Colors

Ansel Adams on Life and Colors

 “Our lives at times seem a study in contrast… love & hate, birth & death, right & wrong… everything seen in absolutes of black & white. Too often we are not aware that it is the shades of grey that add depth & meaning to the starkness of those extremes.”

– Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams was an American landscape photographer that showcased much of the American West through black and white images. He especially loved national parks; his work can be seen on many calendars, posters, and internet sites worldwide. 

3. Henri Mattise on the Queen of All Colors

Henri Mattise on the Queen of All Colors

“I’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors is black.”

– Henri Mattise

A French Fauvist painter, Henri Mattise, said that black was by far the most powerful color even after 40 years of painting and learning. Looking through this list,  he may be right. 

4. Walker Evans on How Color Can Change Photography

Walker Evans on How Color Can Change Photography

“Color tends to corrupt photography and absolute color corrupts it absolutely. Consider the way color film usually renders blue sky, green foliage, lipstick red, and the kiddies’ playsuit. These are four simple words which must be whispered: color photography is vulgar.”

– Walker Evans

Walker Evans was best known for his work with the FSA (Farm Security Administration) and for documenting all of the effects of the Great Depression across the American landscape. 

5. Anders Petersen on the Colors in Black and White

Anders Petersen on the Colors in Black and White

“In black and white, there are more colors than color photography, because you are not blocked by any colors so you can use your experiences, your knowledge, and your fantasy, to put colors into black and white.”

– Anders Petersen

Anders Petersen is a Swedish photographer based in Stockholm. He produces intimate and personal black and white photography and has published over 20 books. 

6. Helen Rushton on Location and Choices

“There are some locations I go to and they scream black and white to me because of the ambiance. For me, great black and white images fall into two categories: very dramatic with stormy skies and bold compositions and at the other end of the spectrum a calm and minimalist composition.” 

– Helen Rushton

Helen Rushton is a British photographer that is well experienced in many facets of photography and whose black and white landscape images are some of the most used and recognized in the country. 

7. Jack Lowden on the Power of Colorless Images

“Everything always looked better in black and white. Everything always looked as if it were the first time; there’s always more people in a black and white photograph. It just makes it seem that there were more people at a gig, more people at a football match, than with color photography. Everything looks more exciting.”

– Jack Lowden

Jack Lowden is a Scottish actor that is very popular in tv and movies and has expressed interest in the art and style of photography. 

8. Jason Peterson on Time and Photography

Jason Peterson on Time and Photography

“Black and white photography erases time from the equation.”

– Jason Peterson

With over 25 years of experience, Jason Peterson is a black and white photographer from the Chicago area. His images tell stories and capture life and thoughts in America. 

9. Antonia Deutsch on Black and White and the Environment

Antonia Deutsch on Black and White and the Environment

“For black and white landscapes I concentrate on the graphic elements of a scene, and the nature of the environment, whether it is stormy or tranquil.”

– Antonia Deutsch

Antonia Deutsch began her career in advertisement photography and soon found a love for landscapes and nature. This new work has since won her many awards and recognitions. 

10. John Beardsworth on the Lack of Color

“While the absence of color may contribute to our appreciation, at the same time it is important to assert that black and white is not photography minus color. Not at all. It’s much more subtle than turning down the color saturation on your television.”

– John Beardsworth

John Beardsworth is a British photographer who works from documentary to landscape photography. He has published over 10 books on these subjects and different aspects of digital photography. 

11. Vikrmn on Colors of the World

Vikrmn on Colors of the World

“The most colorful thing in the world is black and white, it contains all colors and at the same time excludes all.”

– Vikrmn

Vikrmn is best known for his many best-selling books, such as 10 Golden Steps of Life, 10 Alone, and Guru with a Guitar. 

12. Guy Gagnon on the Benefits of Black and White

“Working in black and white makes me feel like a painter, not a photographer. Shooting this way allows me to focus my attention on the light and shade, textures, shapes, and expressions. It’s really a matter of personal choice, but in my opinion, black and white can lead to a more abstract reading of reality, which is arguably more demanding and more challenging to produce. Here photographers cannot use flattering colors or colored light to distract the eye. You cannot cheat in black and white.”

– Guy Gagnon

Guy Gagnon is a French Canadian photographer specializing in architectural and urban life and different plant life and species. 

13. Dean Sherwood on Individualism and Color

“I think every subject deserves to be treated as just what they are, an individual. It’s quite often I will think ‘this is going to look great in black and white’ though. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a black and white photograph and thought ‘that would look great in color’.”

– Dean Sherwood

Dean Sherwood is a London-based photographer and is experienced in portrait, editorial, and advertisement photography. He started photography at the age of 11. 

14. Robert Frank on Symbolism in Black and White

Robert Frank on Symbolism in Black and White

“Black and white are the colors of photography. To me, they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.”

– Robert Frank

Robert Frank is a Swiss photographer and filmmaker who produced many important and popular pieces in the documentary world. 

15. Ted Grant on Black and White Against Color

Ted Grant on Black and White Against Color

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”

-Ted Grant

Ted Grant is one of Canada’s most popular photographers and has been in the industry for over 60 years as a photojournalist. 

Black and White Photography Quotes | Conclusion

Black and white photography is a beautiful and timeless art form. These 15 black and white photography quotes capture the essence of what makes it so unique.

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by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

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