BLACK AND WHIT E S T E V E
McCurry is renowned for his use of colour in portrait photography. Yet when he started out as a press photographer in Philadelphia the 1970s, he worked exclusively in black and white…
What did you think about shooting in black and white? Do you find it more or less difficult than shooting in colour?
I love black and white. I think black and white makes everything a little bit more graphic and sometimes there’s more emotion in black and white, and certainly you don’t have the added problem of the colour to solve. To me, black and white is easier. With photographing the world in colour, that’s the way we see it so it makes far more sense to photograph the world in colour, but if you’re going to make a colour photograph you need to think about it, whereas in black and white you don’t have to think about colour at all.
It’s apples and oranges. Black and white photography is wonderful, colour photography is wonderful. It just depends on how you want to spend your time in this world. Do you still shoot black and white photographs today?
No. But I think the way to identify a good colour photograph is to ask yourself if you convert it to black and white does it still have interest? Does it still have value?
That would make a good story idea: let’s look at a series of colour photographs, let’s just break it down, see how they work: the light, the design, the graphic quality. If it’s a good picture, whether it’s been shot in colour or in black and white, then it’s successful.