Black and White

Abigail, Paper over Window

Black and White is where I began my photography journey so many years ago.  I remember still the excitement of bringing home my very first and very simple enlarger.  I spent about 100 dollars on it, and at that time, it was probably one of the biggest purchases in my life.  When the apartment I was living in burnt down a few months later (thanks for a regularly drunk and habitually smoking downstairs neighbor), it was one of the few things, including my camera, that I grabbed as the fire literally swirled like a cyclone around the eaves, rails, and deck of our upstairs walkway.  Barefoot, and with bleeding heels, I must have looked like a moron there with this long-necked contraption held tightly against my chest as the firemen lingered about what was mostly a lost cause.

Of course I snapped some shots, but in the long history since that night, they’ve become nothing but more dusty fragments of my memory.  Who knows where such photographs end up.  Probably some garbage heap.

Maybe it is because it is where I started that I continually come back to different forms of black and white processing.  But I think it is because black and white does what photographs are supposed to do, which is make a moment as much as capture a moment.  We take the living, and with a strong black and white print, we push that living thing beyond the everyday lifelike rendition to something really miraculous.  We are able through a process of elimination, through the bold simplification of an image, to bring forth into the world the dream of memory.  Childhood should always haunt us in black and white.  Our marriages, our deaths, none of this belongs in the light of the everyday.  They, too, are more than what exact duplication could ever capture.  Hence, for me, at least, the image above of my daughter is truer to my heart than almost anything else but the beat of her heart against me, or the sweat of her neck as I pressed my hand to her feverish skin and prayed when she was last ill.

3 thoughts on “Black and White

    1. Anthony Blake Post author

      It’s nice that there are people who can see the humor in any situation…haha. But luckily no one was hurt. Not even the drunk who burnt the place down. He was so so lucky that someone was able to pull him out in time. He was still passed out on the grass as the whole place burned around him and the firemen shot their hoses into the various apartments. I hope he at least had the worst hangover of his life.

  1. dennstedt

    Anth, we share a love of B&W (and I would include Sepia) images. You said it perfectly. The process of elimination is almost Zen-like for me; reducing to the simple and sublime. Without the distraction of color we can delve deeper into the subject (to its essence, its core). I love color, but B&W holds a special place in my heart and creative spirit. I can still smell the chemicals from my youth when my dad and I did our own developing and printing in our second bathroom. I don’t think my mom was too thrilled when we would commandeer it for a few days to indulge our photography hobby. It is so much easier now with digital and Photoshop, but I sometimes miss the process. The ‘Magic’ of seeing an image slowly resolve itself under the pale red light we used. Good memories. Stick with it my friend, I still totally admire your work (and your views on life and photography). Steve (shooting away happily in Mexico)


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