The following appeared as part of an article in a photography magazine:
“When choosing whether to work in colour or black-and-white, the photographer who wishes to be successful should keep in mind that because colour photographs are more true to life, magazines use more colour photographs than black-and-white one, and many newspapers are also starting to use color photographs. The realism of colour also accounts for the fact that most portrait studios use more colour film than black-and-white film. Furthermore, there are more types of colour film that black and white film available today. Clearly those photographers who work in colour have an advantage over those who work in black-and-white”
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.
In trying to persuade the reader, presumably a commercial photographer, the author uses a compelling, logically constructed argument. The passage would, on first reading, be enough for many would-be paparazzi to switch to colour film, should they be using the black-and-white variety. Considering of course, they wish to be commercially successful in selling their images to the media industry.
The high demand for colour images due in part to the realism of the images is a persuasive train of thought, although in a digital age, the issue of how many types of colour (versus black-and-white) films are available seems irrelevant.
Conflists of Interest
However, as the article first appeared in a photography magazine, the motives of the author are questionable. It is not inconceivable that the author is an executive from a film manufacturer writing a bylined article designed to bolster sales of a high margin product, as colour films undoubtedly are. The article could also have been printed as an “advertorial” in bought media space rather than the trusted editorial opinion and third party validation of the magazine’s staff.
Cyclical Supply and Demand
Conflicts of interest from the author aside, the author does not look deeper into the implications of the supply and demand model introduced in the passage. Let us imagine that the media industry is, indeed, generating increasing demand for colour images. This, in turn increases the supply for the product and floods the market for colour images.
If supply is too high, demand shrinks – something that would not be altogether surprising considering the competitive, increasingly global nature of the media industry. Media outlets looking to differentiate themselves stylistically could decide to move back to black-and-white images due to the low cost of any product in low demand. This would give the media company a unique selling point (dramatically different style) and a competitive advantage (lower expenditure on image royalties).
The final and, in my mind, greatest flaw in the passage is that the author is propagating colour film as the end to all struggling commercial photographer’s woes – if you are working with black-and-white film, you are at a disadvantage – as if the only factor taken into account when viewing an image is whether it is in colour or black and white.
The author says nothing of the content and composition of the image in question.
It would be a worthwhile caveat to remind would be commercial photographers to focus on producing a quality product, rather than on something that will on influence a customer, in this case a news desk or photo editor, on the margins rather than on a material basis.