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108 Inspiring Black & White Photography Quotes, to Win Every Debate

108 Black & White Photography Quotes -- curated by George Tatakis

Revisit black-and-white photography through the lens of profound insights. Just as sharp observers share their uniquely witty perspective on life, these quotations encapsulate the core of a monochromatic realm—a realm that strips away distractions and encourages us to perceive with lucidity. Within George Tatakis' curated selection, you'll find reflections from esteemed photographers, artists, and intellectuals who have contemplated the profound impact of black-and-white imagery.

Allow these quotations to guide you through the profound sophistication of black-and-white photography, and perhaps, you'll unearth fresh revelations in the art of subtlety.

Ready to draw inspiration from our black-and-white photography quotes?

Let's get right to it: Here are my favourite quotes about black-and-white photography:


“All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.” – Leo Tolstoy

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Leo Tolstoy

“A black-and-white image isolates and simultaneously enhances the subject’s soul to project it in a far-reaching dimension.” – Anoir Ouadah

“A good black-and-white photo makes you forget that it’s devoid of colours.” – Anonymous

“A good colour picture is usually a good black-and-white too.” – John Beardsworth

“A natural self-limitation in photography is to leave out the colour and present the world in black and white.” – Harold Davis

“Admiring black and white photos is often what first starts people out on their own road to becoming keen photographers.” – John Beardsworth

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - John Beardsworth

“Although humans see reality in colour, for me, black-and-white [photography] has always been connected to the image’s deeper truth, to its most hidden meaning.” – Peter Lindbergh

“Architectural photography allows me to tame cities of iron and concrete and find a ‘charm’ within them. With my studio photography shooting plants and flowers, I can keep some affiliation with nature. These two themes often recur in my work and complement each other: the cold, sharp aesthetics and straight lines of architecture are opposed by the delicacy, curves, sensitivity and poetry of nature. These themes have influenced me to switch to the world of black-and-white to accentuate this darker but more poetic theme.” – Guy Gagnon

“As a child, I used to watch old black-and-white movies and was captivated by the imagery. I think that this influenced my decision to specialise in black and white from an extremely early stage. For me black and white is a purer image which allows greater drama and more expression, be it a portrait or a landscape.” – Antonia Deutsch

“Black and white allows me to detach from the cliche ‘souvenir photo’ approach to photography.” – Guy Gagnon

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Guy Gagnon

“Black and white are the colours of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.” – Robert Frank

“Black and white can transform a scene into something magical.” – Rob Sheppard

“Black and white creates a strange dreamscape that colour never can.” – Jack Antonoff

“Black and white does more to evoke an emotion and freeze a moment in time.” – Kyle Anstey

“Black and white finds a new strength in unlikely subjects, taking away the distractions of colour and emphasising form, texture and shape.” – David Prakel

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - David Prakel

“Black and white has an unsurpassed ability to convey character.” – David Prakel

“Black and white has the potential to make any photographer a better photographer.” – Rob Sheppard

“Black and white imagery takes you beyond what most people photograph.” – Rob Sheppard

“Black and white is abstract; colour is not. Looking at a black and white photograph, you are already looking at a strange world.” – Joel Sternfeld

“Black and white is how it should be – there's something about it that just works. I am instantly more connected with a black-and-white image than a colour one.” – Jasmine Star

“Black and white is not sad. It's poetic.” – Robert Frank

“Black and white is the conscience of photography. It’s the reference point.” – Leonard Freed

“Black and white is the reality of photography. Everything else is just a representation.” – Paul Strand

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Paul Strand

“Black and white isn’t just an aesthetic choice. It’s an ongoing dialogue between the past and present.” – Anonymous

“Black and white makes you feel like you’re looking into the soul of the world, without distractions.” – Anonymous

“Black and white photography allows us to see with a different eye, to visit a different world.” – John Daido Loori

“Black and white photography does more to evoke an emotion and freeze a moment in time than any other medium.” – Cliff Edom

“Black and white photography does more to evoke an emotion and freeze a moment in time.” – Kyle Anstey

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

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Jason Peterson

“Black and white photography has an enhanced sobriety and gravitas that can be well suited to formal events such as weddings.” – Tim Savage

“Black and white photography has the potential to make any photographer a better photographer.” – Rob Sheppard

“Black and white photography helps us remember the past and its rich history in a unique way.” – Anonymous

“Black and white photography is a perfect lie. We must not let colour destroy this image.” – Patrick Summerfield

“Black and white photography is truly quite a ‘departure from ‘reality’, and the transition from one aspect of visual magic to another was not as complete as many imagine.” – Ansel Adams

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Ansel Adams

“Black and white photography is truly quite a ‘departure from reality,’ and that is its beauty.” – Garry Winogrand

“Black-and-white always looks modern, whatever that word means.” – Karl Lagerfeld

“Colour is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive.” – Eliott Erwitt

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Eliott Erwitt

“Color is everything, black and white is more.” – Dominic Rouse

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

“Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.” – Ansel Adams

“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.” – Jack White

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Jack White

“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

“For me black and white is a purer image which allows greater drama and more expression, be it a portrait or a landscape.” – Antonia Deutsch

“For me, converting a colour photo to black and white is like dipping a film negative in the developer liquid and discovering the final image.” – Guy Gagnon

“Good black-and-white photography is not about the removal of colour!” – Rob Sheppard

“Great colour contrasts are great material for black and white.” – John Beardsworth

“I believe that the essence of photography is black and white. Colour is but a deviance.” – Ruth Bernhard

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Ruth Bernhard

“I don't see the world completely in black and white. Sometimes I do.” – Benicio Del Toro

“I enjoy using black and white when creating fashion images and portraits as it tends to isolate the model. When shooting black and white, it makes you think differently. Your mindset has to change from colour and you have to think in monochrome.” — James Nader

“I find that colour distracts the eye, but black and white retains the essence.” – Dominic Rouse

“I find that with black and white I go straight to the person. In colour, I am more worried about the light, the clothes, the setting, etc. It is more complex. In black and white, it’s the person who is important.” — Harry Gruyaert

“I love black and white. It’s abstract and interpretive.” – Herb Ritts

“I prefer black and white and portrait photography. I like old, you know, interesting faces, so I think black and white brings out the contrast.” – Brooklyn Beckham

“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 colour’.” – Dean Sherwood

“I think it’s because it was an emotional story, and emotions come through much stronger in black and white. Colour is distracting in a way, it pleases the eye but it doesn’t necessarily reach the heart.” – Kim Hunter

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Kim Hunter

“I work in colour 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

“I’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colours is black.” – Henri Matisse

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

“In black and white you suggest, in color you state. Much can be implied by suggestion, but the statement demands certainty… absolute certainty.” – Paul Outerbridge

“In the '70s, in Britain, if you were going to do serious photography, you were obliged to work in black-and-white. Colour was the palette of commercial photography and snapshot photography.” – Martin Parr

“In the history of photography, we have many masterpieces in black and white, and you can learn a lot from them. We’re all still working in a tradition – both in terms of art and in terms of science.” – Hiroshi Sugimoto

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Hiroshi Sugimoto

“It is always worth reflecting on why you are doing B&W. After all, making pictures black and white is a deliberate choice and there’s usually a bit more to it than a whim.” – John Beardsworth

“It’s an obvious opportunity for black and white when a scene contains little colour but lots of texture.” – John Beardsworth

“Landscapes are a classic way of using black and white and can give you a very elegant look at nature.” – Rob Sheppard

“Landscapes are where photography began, and in the beginning, black and white was all there was.” – Rob Sheppard

“Let’s assume that all the cassettes of monochrome film Cartier-Bresson ever exposed had somehow been surreptitiously loaded with colour film. I’d venture to say that about two-thirds of his pictures would be ruined and the remainder unaffected, neither spoiled nor improved. And perhaps one in a thousand enhanced.” – Philip Jones Griffiths

“Life is in colour, but black and white is more realistic.” – Samuel Fuller

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Samuel Fuller

“Life is like a good black-and-white photograph, there’s black, there’s white, and lots of shades in between.” — Karl Heiner

“Life is like a piano; the white keys represent happiness and the black show sadness. But as you go through life’s journey, remember that the black keys also create music.” — Ehssan

“Light and shadow are opposite sides of the same coin. We can illuminate our paths or darken our way. It is a matter of choice.” – Maya Angelou

“Mastering black and white photography is about learning to see in shades of grey.” – Ted Dillard

“Maybe black and white is the best medium for landscapes, I don't know.” – Fay Godwin

“Music photographs in black and white are timeless. I can definitely recount more black-and-white music photographs I love than I can colour ones.” — Dean Sherwood

“My experience of learning in the darkroom with black and white film had limitations that were helpful. There were fewer choices.” – Annie Leibovitz

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Annie Leibovitz

“My philosophy, like colour television, is all there in black and white.” – Monty Python

“Nothing conveys mood and emotion quite like a good black-and-white image. But simply removing colour from an image is unlikely to achieve this.” – Robin Whalley

“One sees differently with colour photography than black-and-white… in short, visualization must be modified by the specific nature of the equipment and materials being used.” – Ansel Adams

“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

“Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but black-and-white films still hold an affectionate place in my heart; they have an incomparable mystique and mood.”― Ginger Rogers

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Ginger Rogers

“Photography is an art form like no other. It allows you to instantaneously capture time, and at the same moment, fade the colors of day into night so that you can print them out again and give them to the world, in the purity of black and white.” — Andri Cauldwell

“Removing colour from the world makes us see deeper into the essence of things.” – Rob Sheppard

“Smile so damn bright that even black and white can’t dull your shine.” — Tilicia Haridat

“Take your time with your composition; black-and-white images need to be strong to work well. With my black-and-white imagery I am always looking for bold textures, contrast between layers and lines in the composition to draw my viewers through the image.” – Helen Rushton

“The beauty of the world in black and white is a whisper to the heart and a call to the soul.” – Anonymous

“The black-and-white photographer is a musician, transposing notes on the fly, visualizing a final print from the world of colour.” – Ted Dillard

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Ted Dillard

“The special factor about black and white photography is that it doesn’t just copy the reality, but it represents it with its own language.” – Gian Marco Marano

“The world is in colour, you have to work in black and white.” – Andrew Maclean

“There are some locations I go to and they scream black and white to me because of the ambience. For me, great black and white pictures 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

“There is something magical about black and white imagery – it allows you to interpret the image, to supply your own mood.” – Clive Barker

“There's something compelling about the simplicity of black-and-white images.” – Aaron Siskind

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Aaron Siskind

“There’s something strange and powerful about black-and-white world of imagery.” – Stefan Kanfer

“To see in colour is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.” – Andri Cauldwell

“To some extent, the cult surrounding black-and-white photography is based on nostalgia.” – René Burri

“What I love about Black & White photographs is that they’re more like reading the book than seeing the movie.” – Jennifer Price

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Jennifer Price

“What the human eye sees is an illusion of what is real. The black and white image transforms illusions into another reality.” — Ruth Bernhard

“When colour gets simpler, you get black and white. When you get simpler than that, you have silence.” – Giles Revell

“When I shoot a photo I already know if the final image will be black and white or colour – it’s a matter of what expressive language you want for that project. Of course, some images are more suitable for black and white world, especially high-contrasted images.” – Gian Marco Marano

“When images are in black and white, they seem timeless. When you see Carrie Otis in an ad from 1989 next to an ad with Klara Wester from 2009, you don't see a 20-year difference between the pictures.” – Paul Marciano

“When shooting a portrait in black and white you are not distracted by the colours and it is much less confused; this allows me to capture the character of my sitter. My portraits are very calm and, I hope, timeless. I strive to make each portrait a true reflection of the individual.” – Antonia Deutsch

“When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!” – Ted Grant

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Ted Grant

“When you shoot in black and white, you capture the soul.” – Ruairidh McGlynn

“Which is probably the reason why I work exclusively in black and white… to highlight that contrast.” – Leonard Nimoy

“While colour photography gets ever closer to reproducing a ‘real image’, comparable to that witnessed by the eye, mono provides a level of abstraction that can evoke a sense of fantasy, dream or escape.” – Tim Savage

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

“With black-and-white photography, what you have to say counts more than the way you say it.” — Gian Marco Marano

108 Black & White Photography Quotes - Gian Marco Marano

“With black and white [photography], what you get is a timeless capture that doesn’t lean on colours but the pure essence of the subject.” – Anonymous

“With the black and white films, one was concerned with tone.” – Julie Harris

“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 colours or coloured light to distract the eye. You cannot cheat in black and white.” – Guy Gagnon


Black-and-White Resources by George Tatakis

You can collect fine art museum-grade black and white photography prints by George Tatakis for your space at his online gallery.

George Tatakis is an internationally acclaimed photographer and a National Geographic partner. He is the recipient of tens of photography awards and his work is being exhibited and published in important institutions and prestigious media. Here are some of the resources that George Tatakis has available for you, to help you in becoming better in photography:

  1. Get Tatakis' book on photography: “Throw away your camera and become a photographer.

  2. Get the Lightroom presets that George Tatakis uses in his photography.

  3. Watch George Tatakis' video course on how to post-process on Adobe's Lightroom, exclusively for black-and-white photography.

Love xx



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