Monochromatic Memories


I love black and white photos.

Whenever I found a picture I liked, I’d immediately change it to black and white. Sometimes I’d switch to sepia. They’re gorgeous and kind of artsy.

Sarah B. B&W - sig

Lately, though, I’ve been looking at life (and photos) in a new way.

Last week I wrote about hiding by being covered up, but is removing something a way of hiding, too? Is getting rid of colors just the flip side of covering them?

I still love sepia and black and white but I’m going to give myself a moment to appreciate what the colors have to say before I make the decision whether or not to strip them away.

Now that my children are older, I flip through albums filled with colorless photos of newborns. They’re beautiful but I want to see my babies as they really were—spit up, cradle cap, rosy cheeks…everything.

Sarah B. Color - sig

I found this picture from last autumn. My husband snapped it as I was about to pull wisps of wind-blown hair out of my face. Upon closer examination, I thought it looked cool. So I turned it black and white. Taking away my skin tone and purple streak. Taking away my true colors.


My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.


Which image do you like better–the black and white or the color? Which photos do you generally prefer? I still love the B&W and sepia filters. There’s something about them. But I’m being more careful about keeping color in my life and in my photos.


40 thoughts on “Monochromatic Memories

  1. Profound and beautiful sentiments. For me, although I get the beauty of black and white, I shall always prefer color for all the nuances you can find in gradients and shading. In sepia and black and white, the appreciation for me is in lines, shapes, contours, and basic shading. It’s a picture of a picture. For full color, there’s just so much more you can see. The actual color of a blemish. the faded scar, a random grey hair. So many things. For me, some of my favorite pictures are sunset and sunrise… and it all has to do with color and how color makes me feel. So although I appreciate the black and white, I shall always choose the full color version of life.

    Beautiful write.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, kind sir. Yes! The “gradients and shading”. I am beginning more and more to view B&W and sepia as a representation of someone or something and color as the actual person or place. In thinking about this, I’m convinced that, though I do think B&W is pretty, I was trying to hide something by stripping color away — blemishes, etc. Who are we without our scars?
      When I think of a sunset, I can’t imagine it without the oranges, pinks, purples… “the full color version of life.” I love that.


  2. I agree that there is some kind of history & magic in B&W photos – this special feeling like you are taken to the past… they have a unique charm but so do the colorful ones. I’ve always prefered colorful pictures & colors to B&W – be it in photos or art; maybe I was just born this way with my love to colors, rainbows & everything bright… Since childhood I loved mixing lots of colors in paintings (I still do), so bark on my trees quite often includes every single color I had on my palette 😀 I think you’re right saying that getting rid of colors might mean the same as hiding behind them & the important thing is to find a fine line & balance, so that revealing your true colors won’t mean hiding behind them or getting rid of your past that makes you who you are now. As I see it this balance is a palette – rather than choosing between colors or B&W I’d prefer to see B&W stuff as sketches & then you’ll add colors reflecting who you are – they can change & you can mix them in many different ways as we all change living, growing up & getting older, but those colorful mixes never leave us & we should not forget about them as the picture of our life is made with a colorful palette of our soul.
    So hre’s to embracing our colors whatever they are 😉

    Sorry for such a long comment & maybe a little rant, but your post made me recall many sweet memories & provided food for many thoughts, some of which I tried to capture immediately & share with you. Thanks a lot for your beautiful words & thoughts ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, the magic of B&W…yes. Art. I do need to find a balance. I need to spend some time with the colors before I make the decision to take them all away. Whether it’s hiding behind another color that is not me or stripping away the colors that are me, it’s hiding. It really is. You are such a poet. ❤ "the picture of our life is made with a colorful palette of our soul." Here's to embracing our colors!

      Don't get me started on history. I still prefer B&W for old family photos. I don't think I'll ever embrace technicolor in old movies or the coloring of old photos. There is a magic all its own when it comes to finding a scrapbook of your grandparents or great-grandparents.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your kind words 🙂 You are a wonderful poet yourself 😉 I’m searching for the balance too… And I agree with you that it would be unnatural to change images either way, as their beauty lies in their authentic form.
        And finding pieces of history (photos, old books, cards etc.) always takes me to the other dimension – a kind of daydreaming trance state – pure magic… such moments will neve cease to amaze me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The color one, definitely! But I’m guilty of this as well…especially with pictures of Me. (See my twitter pic) For every place I’ve developed self confidence, there are a dozen others where I am still not happy with Myself.

    And even though I chant to myself in the back of my brain, “I’m not trying to impress anyone”…I’m guess I still want to impress Myself.

    But I agree that I want to see pictures in color the older I get…and I find myself disappointed when I finally see a picture of someone and it’s in Black and white. I look for little things, like eye colors…freckles…and Purple Streaks…these things make us unique.

    So the color…definitely.

    All my best, Beautiful Writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right? I’m guilty pretty much all the time (kids, nature…) but especially with photos of me. It does create a kind of barrier or it strips something away… I’m not sure but it helps to see a photo of myself that isn’t in FULL COLOR and I’m beginning to wonder why. Also I’m beginning to fix that. I agree. We are forever trying to impress ourselves. I love that you now look for the little things. That’s what it’s all about. It’s what makes us individual. Like a purple streak that no one knew I had in that first picture. 🙂

      Thanks, Eric.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. GORJUS photos. See here’s the thing, I can’t choose! I saw the black and white and loved it. There’s something so emotional and emotive about colourless photos – it’s like the moment is laid bare in all its gory emotion good or bad, nothing interfering just the spectacular raw emotions. It’s translatable, it’s like a mutual world on gauge because everyone understands emotion even if we don’t understand the same words.

    But then I saw you had purple in ur hair and knew something was missing from the black and white photo. It’s like essence. I sometimes see people’s energy or aura or whatever u want to call it, everyone’s is slightly different. I think that where the black and white photo is emotional in a common language kind of way, colour photos are unique in exactly the opposite way, they show the differences and beauty in our uniqueness. Does that make sense? Or am I chatting BS?!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha! 😀 It’s okay. And thank you. Love that you love them both.

      Yes. There is something “emotive about colorless photos”. Hadn’t thought about a moment caught being laid bare for the world to see. When you strip away color, you do make a photo more relatable and accessible, I agree. It could be anyone, anywhere. But, yes, then there is the “something missing” part when you see the color. Essence.
      Love this comment. (And expect some bothering from me about the auras. That is so cool. I need more info.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hmm. How do I capture what I thought? Let’s try. I saw the black and white and thought stunning. Bit arty farty if you like, because it’s unreal – I mean you’re not black and white but as a composition, a piece of art, something to generate an emotional response it works just fine and dandy. Then the colour and the purple – which I took to be a stain on your shirt until you pointed out it was a streak in your hair – and thought now that is really beautiful. That’s you: nuanced, shaded and sunny, depth and detail but also range and tone and subtlety that black and white blanches and bleaches out. Maybe you hide behind the colour? Is it there to distract the eye from something else, some essence? Is black and white giving us a simpler version, more visceral and therefore getting to some fundamental level, more rather than less revalatory? I’d argue black and white is more pastiche because one (colour) is you and one (B&W) is a representation of a person. Art as life? Not for me. I’ll take the real any day. Not sure this makes any sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Ever. B&W is a representation of a person, not the person. I mean, it IS me, but it is me hiding, yes. Hiding as a flat, arty farty composition. I am beginning to want all that nuanced shading, coloring, and tone that I intentionally bleached out.

      I also love your idea of the B&W being a simpler version. And, in that way, perhaps creating a reaction the color might not (with the viewer being distracted by a bright purple streak). It’s not an especially colorful photo to begin with but, after the B&W version, it shows so much. Or not… Am I not trying to hide but actually provide something that might not have been there or been noticed if color were in it? Are we getting a bit philosophical here or just silly? I don’t know. I like it, either way. Thanks, Geoff.

      Liked by 1 person

    • 😀 A third option! I do love sepia, too. There are a lot more filters available now than when I was *ahem* younger. Yes, you can filter away depending on your mood. Just want to make sure my mood isn’t always B&W.


  6. Like we all have many aspects, different treatments reveal something new or unseen. I like the sophistication of the black and white, and the pop of color (especially the purple streak) that adds more texture to you in that shot. We are always defining self, and photos are a way to capture both moments and who we felt like in that moment. Lovely photo! Your husband has a good eye.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just wrote about a box of old black and whites my mother kept that I used to love rummaging through as a child. One on particular, of my dad, in the fifties, standing in front of the Empire State Building…intrigued the heck out of me. I adore black and white and sepia, but you’re right, colour brings a different vibe, a richness. Both bring beauty, as do both these photos of you beautiful lady ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh…that’s a whole different set of silverware. Old photos. ❤ Love. It is so awesome going through my parents' and grandparents' scrapbooks. I adore those, too. Yes, "real" color does give a different vibe, like I was talking about in response to Loni's comment. I think they both have their place. But, as for pictures of my family, I'm going to keep more of those in color.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thought-provoking post, Sarah. I love black & white and sepia shots, but it never occurred to me at I might be stripping something away from them. Interesting! As for the comparison… I love both of your photos – your husband captured you and the moment beautifully. Sue (via Suzy81’s Halloween Party)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It hadn’t really occurred to me, either. I just realized one day how often I do it and wondered why. Was I trying to “fix” something or did I not want to see the colors that were there for some reason? Of course, sometimes a sepia is just a sepia. 😉 But I’m going to hold on to the colors for a bit longer… Thanks!


  9. Colour vs black & white – that’s a good question! I think I’m naturally drawn to black and white, but you make some good points about colour. Out of the two photos above, I prefer the colour one.

    I agree re: keeping colour in life. I have a friend who is all about Big and Colourful. No black and white for her! She’s one of my favourite people. I’m going to send her this post… I think she’d really like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I go to a photography display, I find myself wandering over to the B&W photos. Always. I wonder now… I’ll have to make a point to check out all the color. I have some friends and family like that, too. They want ALL the color! 😀 Every year when I watch It’s a Wonderful Life, I prefer the black and white version. (Though that’s not really the same thing — not sure “technicolor” counts as “true colors”. It makes me cringe in some movies.)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I like your color! B&W has its charm, but so does color. I think that’s the beauty of digital photography. It allows us to have different perspectives and lets us appreciate reality even more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. I can appreciate a beach scene with the gorgeous blue sky, tan sand, turquoise water, white foam of waves breaking…but beach scenes can be stunning in B&W with a classic, timeless beauty of the ocean. I love that we can have these different perspectives and appreciate reality in different ways. Same beach, different feel.


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