Black and white photography forgoes the visual brilliance of color to focus more on composition. Ryan demonstrates this to great effect in the picture above. Rather than getting distracted by the colors around the individual, the viewer is pulled right into the communion of the man and his phone. With only his face lit by the glow of the phone’s screen, we get to see his face while the rest of his body is enveloped by the uniform black of his hoodie. Add in his Mona Lisa-esque expression and get to guess what it means; is he happy or angry at what he sees on his LCD screen? Or is it something else? Perfectly composed for us to see whatever we want to see.
When people see the behemoths of cameras that I carry around, their normal reaction is something along the lines of “I bet you get great pictures with those!” Before I really got into photography, I would have probably said the same thing. Now, a few years and tens of thousands of pictures later, I know it’s not the camera that makes a good picture, it’s the photographer behind the camera that is key. The camera is just a tool, and a person can take a great picture with a comparatively inferior tool, if they have the skill.
Ryan demonstrates this point with his phenomenal street shot of a federal employee on the Metro. Using a camera, which millions of people have and use everyday (an iPhone), he’s able to take a great candid in a hectic and photo adverse environment. That’s skill!
By the way, you’ve probably noticed I’m a new author. Though I’ve been trolling the site for years as a reader, the powers that be thought I would make a good contributor. Thus, here I am! My beat will be mostly photography, so keep the shots coming into the group. I will tell you now, I’m a sucker for good wildlife and long exposure photography. So, keep reading, and, just so that you know, all well placed Star Wars and 80s movie references are welcome in the comments.