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20 Best Black and White Photography Quotes

Last updated: January 18, 2024 - 8 min read
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Black and white photography is a unique art form that can create stunning images with a simple palette of two colors.

But creating great black and white photos isn’t easy – it takes skill, talent, and a lot of practice. That’s why it’s important to learn from the masters of this art form. Check out these 20 best black and white photography quotes for inspiration!

1. Black And White Photography Quotes By Jason Peterson On The Timelessness Of B&W

“Black and white photography erases time from the equation.” – Jason Peterson

Jason M. Peterson is one of the biggest photographers on Instagram today. He is not only a photographer but also a creative director and has his own advertising agency.

He has 1 million Insta followers and his feed provides exceptional inspiration for black and white photography.

black and white photography with quote overlayed

2. Rob Sheppard on What Black and White Photography is NOT

“Good black and white photography is not about the removal of color!” – Rob Sheppard

Rob Sheppard is a nature photographer and videographer who also worked as the editor of the prestigious  Outdoor Photographer magazine.

Moreover, he also wrote and photographed for more than 40 books. Being in nature is essential for Rob’s life and he encourages other people to do the same.

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3. Annie Leibovitz on The Positive Limitations of B&W Photography

“My experience of learning in the darkroom with black-and-white film had limitations that were helpful. There were fewer choices. When digital came along, I didn’t jump into it. But it was obvious that this is what was going to be. If you do this for a long time, everything changes.” – Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is one of the greatest photographers of our age. She is known for her portrait photographs and often captures celebrities.

Her polaroid of John Lennon and Yoko Ono was taken only five hours before Lennon was shot. The Library of Congress declared Leibovitz as a Living Legend.
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4. John Beardsworth on Textures and B&W

“It’s an obvious opportunity for black and white when a scene contains little color but lots of texture.” – John Beardsworth

John Beardsworth is an American photographer and author who started with commercial assignments. Later, he discovered how he could combine two of his passions: painting and photography.

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5. Dean Sherwood on B&W Music Photographs

“Music photographs in black and white are timeless. I can definitely recount more black and white music photographs I love than I can color ones.” – Dean Sherwood

Dean Sherwood is a London-based photographer and videographer. His work often focuses on the music industry.

His Instagram feed offers behind-the-scene insights and inspiration for anyone interested in music or black and white photography.

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6. Antonia Deutsch On Black and White Portraits

“When shooting a portrait in black and white you are not distracted by the colors and it is much less confused; this allows me to capture the character of my sitter. My portraits are very calm and, I hope, timeless. I strive to make each portrait a true reflection of the individual.” – Antonia Deutsch

Antonia Deutsch is a photographer from the UK who began her career with advertising clients in London. Later, she started to specialize in black and white photography. She received many awards and had several exhibitions throughout her career.

black and white portrait photography with quote overlayed

7. Martin Parr on Why B&W Was Popular in the ’70s

“In the ’70s, in Britain, if you were going to do serious photography, you were obliged to work in black-and-white. Color was the palette of commercial photography and snapshot photography.” – Martin Parr

Martin Parr is a British photojournalist, documentary photographer and photobook collector. He is known for his photography projects that document the social classes of England and the wealth of the Western world. He has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1994.

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8. Philip Jones Griffiths on B&W vs Color

“Let’s assume that all the cassettes of monochrome film Cartier-Bresson ever exposed had somehow been surreptitiously loaded with color film. I’d venture to say that about two-thirds of his pictures would be ruined and the remainder unaffected, neither spoiled nor improved. And perhaps one in a thousand enhanced.” – Philip Jones Griffiths

Philip Jones Griffiths was a Welsh photojournalist. He’s best known for his coverage of the Vietnam war. He was president of Magnum, between 1980-85.

A silhouette of a tree against white snowy landscape with black and white photography quote by Philip Jones Griffiths

9. Fay Godwin on Black and White Landscape Photography

“Maybe black and white is the best medium for landscapes, I don’t know.” – Fay Godwin“

Fay Godwin was a British photographer who became famous for her black and white landscape photography. She was a self-taught photographer who started with portraits and found her true calling in photographing the British countryside and coast.

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10. Mary Ellen Mark Explaining What She Loves About B&W Photography

“I work in color sometimes, but I guess the images I most connect to, historically speaking, are in black and white. I see more in black and white – I like the abstraction of it.” – Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark was a famous photographer from the US who was known for her documentary photos, portraits, advertising photography and photojournalism.

Between 1977 and 1981 she was a member of Magnus Photos. She received several awards for her artwork.

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11. Andri Cauldwell on Black and White

“To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul” – Andri Cauldwell

Andri Magdelena Cauldwell is a contemporary American photographer. Her work has appeared in many famous magazines and as part of national marketing campaigns. Her black and white quotes pinpoint exactly how powerful monochrome photography can be.

The interior of a stone church overlayed with black and white quotes from Andri Cauldwell

12. Henri Mattise on the Queen of All Colors

“I’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors is black.” – Henri Mattise

Henri Matisse was a French Fauvist painter. He said, even after 40 years of painting and discovering, black is the most powerful color.

A photo of the silhouette of birds perched on electricity wires overlayed with black and white quotes from Henri Matisse

13. Paul Outerbridge on the Difference Between Color and Monochrome

“One very important difference between color and monochromatic photography is this: in black and white you suggest; in color you state. Much can be implied by suggestion, but statement demands certainty… absolute certainty.” – Paul Outerbridge

Paul Outerbridge, Jr. was an American photographer. He’s known for his early use of and experiments with color photography and for his fashion and commercial photography. Paul also created erotic nude photos that were not exhibited while he was alive.

Atmospheric architecture photo overlayed with a quote from Paul Outerbridge

14. Anders Petersen on Black and White

“In black and white there are more colors than color photography, because you are not blocked by any colors so you can use your experiences, your knowledge, and your fantasy, to put colors into black and white.” – Anders Petersen

Anders Petersen (born 3 May 1944) is a Swedish photographer, who works in Stockholm. His work features intimate and personal black and white documentary-style photographs.

A street photo of the silhouette of a man overlayed with photo quotes from Anders Petersen

15. Ansel Adams on Seeing in Black and White Photography

“One sees differently with color photography than black-and-white… in short, visualization must be modified by the specific nature of the equipment and materials being used.” – Ansel Adams

Ansel Easton Adams was an American landscape photographer. His black-and-white landscape images showcased the American West, especially National Parks. They appear in calendars, posters, books, and all over the internet.

A photo of birds perched on a wall overlayed with black and white photography quote from Ansel Adams

16. Walker Evans on How Color Corrupts Photography

“Color tends to corrupt photography and absolute color corrupts it absolutely. Consider the way color film usually renders blue sky, green foliage, lipstick red, and the kiddies’ playsuit. These are four simple words which must be whispered: color photography is vulgar.” – Walker Evans

Walker Evans was an American photojournalist and photographer. He’s best known for his work for the FSA (Farm Security Administration) documenting the effects of the Great Depression.

A boy stands at the bottom of some black and white steps

17.  Eliott Erwitt on Black and White

“Color is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive.” – Eliott Erwitt

Eliott Erwitt is an American photographer, best known for his street photography. He also used black and white candid shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings.

Atmospheric landscape photo of a mountainous landscape overlayed with black and white quote from Eliot Erwitt

18. Dominic Rouse on B&W

“Color is everything, black and white is more.” – Dominic Rouse

Dominic Rouse is an English photographer whose work includes photojournalism, commercial, fine art and advertising photography. America’s Black and White magazine described him as the ‘master of digital manipulation’.

19. Rober Frank on Black and White Symbolism

“Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected” – Robert Frank

Robert Frank was a Swiss-American photographer and documentary filmmaker. His most notable work, the 1958 book titled The Americans, presented his outsider’s view of American society.
A photo of the silhouette of a little boy on a swingset overlayed with a black and white photography quote from Robert Frank

20. Ted Grant on B&W vs. Color Photography

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”― Ted Grant

Ted Grant is Canada’s most prolific living photographer. He has a career spanning 60 years as a photojournalist.
His latest book, published in 2009, came with the title “Real Photographers Shoot Black and White. Sometimes Colour”.
Atmospheric photo of the silhouette of a man fishing overlayed with black and white quotes from Ted Grant


Every photographer needs inspiration from others. You can find this by looking at other artists’ work or read their words.

We hope these quotes help you get a better understanding of the uses of black and white photography.