160318 Colour - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

There's this rule, and it's a pretty simple one, really: if an unknown number calls me, and doesn't leave a message, it means that they want to talk to me but know that I won't want to talk to them.

The communication is entirely for their benefit, not mine.

I'm increasingly feeling that about colour. So much of the colour in our built environment isn't there because people think I want to see it, it's because they want me to see it. Advertisements, enforcement signs, attention-getting devices. Sometimes colour does convey genuinely useful information that I want to know – traffic lights in particular, but not much else. And sometimes colour is genuinely there for its aesthetic value, but that's pretty rare too.

These days I'm leaning toward monochrome for busy scenes. So often colour is just not relevant.

Of course I won't stop photographing colour. Just the opposite – I'm now photographing colour for its own sake, for its designs and patterns. Working in monochrome is simply an extension of trying to be sensitive to colour and use it intentionally.

The first photo is a twenty-eight second daylight exposure, and the second is a merge of two sequential photos. In each case they're experimental, and are trying to see in ways that only a camera can. That's the other thing that I'm trying to do more of recently.


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