June 6, 2012

Black and White

There are many parallels between photography and life. Previously, I wrote a blog post on how color applies to both photography and life. But black-and-white photography is actually not like the black-and-white view we sometimes have in life. In pictures, B&W processing shows richness in texture and depth in patterns, and also shows many shades of grey. Black-and-white thinking, though, allows for no richness and no grey. B&W thinking is rigid, judgmental, and restrictive; as opposed to B&W photography, which is a flexible choice--a different way to view the world.

We Wisconsinites had a big election last night. The issues involved were (and are) divisive for our communities. These are emotionally-charged topics, and many people contract into B&W thinking (e.g., I'm right and you're wrong). I am deeply disappointed with the results of last night's election. It's not what I wanted, but it's what happened. And that doesn't make it wrong. There's much more middle ground. The more life experience I gain, the more I realize nothing is black and white--everything is filled with shades of grey. In fact, it's the shades of grey that allow us to understand and empathize (even just a little) with everyone in this zany world. And that connection is vital to our sense of community.

Wendell Berry wrote a thought-provoking poem called "Enemies." The first two sentences:
"If you are not to become a monster,
you must care what they think.
If you care what they think,
how will you not hate them,
and so become a monster
of the opposite kind?"

Hate comes from B&W thinking. Beauty comes from B&W photography. I hope we can embrace the muted shades of grey; embrace the richness (and complication) of life; and embrace each other, even if by baby steps.


  1. I actually was just thinking about this same metaphor in-depth lately. I love it! Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Jess: Thank you right back! I appreciate your comment.