Jake sure looks good in technicolor, doesn't he? But you know what else Jake looks good in? Black and white.
What is it about black and white photography that captivates us? How can it communicate so much with so little? Absent (techni)color, photographers shooting in black and white have to impact for other reasons and be sure the elements are strong - such as the design, shadow, pattern, light, interpretation, perspective and angles. Of course, having a subject like Jake Gyllenhaal to photograph can only enhance the process.
By removing color from a composition we are left with fewer details to consider, so our attention must focus on the other aspects of the shot: a slanted sidewalk, patterns of a rug, sconces on a wall, the pattern of a shirt.
The late theorist, novelist and filmmaker, Susan Sontag said, "photography teaches us how to look at the world, those photographs of heroes and celebrities gradually motivate us to associate black and white photography with heroes and authority, and color photography with celebrities and transitoriness. Thus, black and white photography conveys a great man’s character better than ephemeral color photography."
Black and white photography conveys a great man's character better than ephemeral color photography. A wonderful quote.
While preparing this post I thought about one of the most acclaimed photographers of this medium, Ansel Adams, and wondered what he had to say about his craft. I admit I didn't get very far once I happened upon this photograph entitled Dogwood Blossoms
and thought how familiar it looked. The only thing missing from that Ansel Adams photograph was Jake's portrait in the middle of it. So flash forward 45 years or so. . .
I leave you with my favorite black and white of Jake, bar none.
Photos courtesy of IHJ and the Ansel Adams Gallery