The other day, coffee date #25 asked me “Why do you only use black and white pictures for your coffee dates?” I actually put a lot of thought into this before beginning my Fifty Coffees project. Lindsay Ratowksy, the woman who inspired this project, uses black and white pictures for only a few of her dates. But I decided to use black and white for all of my dates. Here’s why:
- The black and white filter is mysterious.
My main goal of going on these coffee dates with people is to understand the depth and dimensionality of human beings. My coffee dates are with varying people, from those I’ve grown up with to people I’ve connected with randomly on social media. The common theme, though, of every date is learning that every single one of them has so many different layers. Black and white pictures convey this message of dimensionality and depth.
- People are less self-conscious with black and white pictures.
I found this ^^^ on Instagram and it perfectly encapsulates my desire to go fully black and white with pictures.
When I whip out my phone and ask my coffee dates to post with their drinks, almost every one of them suddenly feels the need to fix their hair, straighten their backs, plump their lips, and ask for validation. This is natural; there’s nothing wrong with cleaning yourself up to look good for the pictures.
However, those same coffee dates also request me to take another picture because they look at their picture and all they see are their acne scars, bad posture, frizzy hair, tired eyes. They don’t see what I see: their rawness, warmth, kindness, wisdom, and gentle smiles. After they tear themselves apart looking at their picture, I tell them “Relax. The picture will be in black & white.” That’s when they calm down and return to their normal and raw selves.
Black & white images tend to hide whatever one believes are their imperfections because it adds that extra layer of mysteriousness (as mentioned above). Additionally, I believe black and white images also evoke some type of warmth that I don’t really know how to describe. With color photos, I feel like pictures of people are not uniform. For instance, say I have a coffee date in a super cute cafe. The color photo of my coffee date will have cute lighting, the unique background of the cafe, and anything else that can make the picture more appealing. On the other hand, if I have another coffee date in the dirty living room of my house, the color photo will have messy paperwork in the background, terrible lighting on the person, and won’t have the same aesthetic appeal.
With black and white pictures, though, every image is equal and uniform. It doesn’t matter what the lighting is or what the background looks like or what the aesthetic appeal is because every image is the same, placing every person on the same pedestal. This removes the chances of people thinking that one’s picture is better or worse than another’s. It forces them to focus on the content more than the picture itself.