The history of photography starts with black and white photography, although the principles by which it works date back way before an image could be fixed on a light sensitive platform.
After the first Kodak cameras came out, people started practicing photography professionally and as a hobby. This lead to black and white photography becoming one of the most important ways to document social life.
A traditional black and white photograph is actually composed of a large variety of grey tones. Some photographers, like the great Ansel Adams, were famous for their beautifully toned black and white photographs. Adams even invented a system of doing this, called the Zone System.
It is said that if you want to photograph a man's clothes, you should use color. But if you want to photograph his soul, you should do it in black and white. Removing color from photography makes it simpler from a visual point of view. Our brains no longer have to distinguish colors and they can focus more on what goes on in the image.
The use of black and white photography today is largely for artistic and fine art purposes. However, documentary photography and photojournalism are genres that still use black and white because it makes the message more powerful. One thing is for sure, no matter how old it is, black and white photography is timeless and it will always represent a poetic part of modern photography.
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