Darren AnkenmanDora Yoder (2013)

During the year I studied fine art photography at an MFA level, I was one of the few people in my class who only shot B&W.

My classmates who shot in color always digressed into these long conversations about the purpose of color in photography.

Unfortunately, I had no point of reference to participate in these discussions. So I tuned them out.

Now, some 7 years later, bits and pieces of their lines of reasoning are coming back to me.

The main contention was that while a photograph (or image) could be in B&W or color that color had to be used in such a fashion that the sense of the photograph/image would be lost without it. In other words: from the standpoint of fine art photography a B&W image was either fine art photography or not but when you dealt with color the decision for it to be in color must be debated prior to any comment on whether or not it could be classed as art.

In hindsight, I realize this discourse was based on the tendency for the monolithic art world to not accept work that was in color unless the fact that it was in color was conceptually unified with the work itself. The great color photographers–Eggleston, Shore, Sternfeld and Wall made work immersed in questions of the roll of color in photography.

(In order to further drive the point home: I say Cindy Sherman; you say Film Stills–but why not Centerfolds or Sex Pictures. I say Sally Mann; you think Immediate Family–but Mann has some extraordinary cibachromes that you’ve probably never seen…)

The above is an example of an image wherein the use of color is foundational to it’s legibility.

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