Is Colour the New Monochrome?
All the masters used black and white for their street photography. Partly because there wasn't any colour film available (doh!), but later on when colour became a viable option, black and white was still considered the only real choice for this genre of photography.
The black and white crutch
I flip-flop between liking and loathing colour for street photography. I love how monochrome accentuates lines, structures and certain moods. It also gives the advantage of being more forgiving in low-light situations - the added grain only adds character to the image, whereas colour really suffers with ugly artifacts (digital and film) when light is limited. At the same time, the absence of colour forces you to focus on fewer elements and work with the basic elements of the scene.
Simplifying is a difficult art to master and I find that monochrome often emphasises bad composition. But somehow we've become used to perceiving grainy black and white photographs as more arty than colour images. Slapping on a black and white filter on a mediocre shot-from-the-hip photo, doesn't turn you into our generation's HCB. We've all tried it. I've done more times than I'd like to admit.
Dare to embrace colour
If you know me, you're well aware of my affinity for monochrome photography but I've decided to be more open to using colour in my images. I'm inspired by the likes of Moritz Möller and Eric Kim who've both embraced colour street photography and actively use its special characteristics to produce wonderful street shots.
Becoming a better photographer is all about challenging yourself and never becoming complacent or too comfortable in your process.
I'm going out looking for striking colours in Copenhagen right now. Are you?