I’ve written before about the power of black and white photography when it comes to conveying emotion. Back in April, on St George’s Day in fact, a lunatic in a van ran down people just going about their everyday business on Yonge Street in Toronto. Why he chose that way to express his frustrations maybe we’ll never know, but the impact on the people of the city was immense.
As happens after these incidents, a memorial of flowers, poems, pictures and toys sprang up at the scene. Colourful and poignant, it was an expression of solidarity towards our fellow citizens and those who had been visiting our city. So why did I choose to shoot it in black and white?
Because to me, and this is my opinion as a photographer, the colours distract. The vibrant reds, yellows, pinks and greens are lovely to look at, but this isn’t lovely. It’s an expression of grief and fellow-feeling, it is stark as the emotions were stark and it forces the viewer to focus on what is happening in the photograph, why the photograph has been taken and not just get taken in by the beautiful colour of the scene.
Look at the man staring at the memorial. If this was in colour would you even notice him? Where would your attention go? On the flowers or on the man, lost in his own thoughts.
Black and white. The world is in colour but sometimes we have to strip away the beauty and look at the reality. This reality was, in my judgment, best presented in black and white.