The Yamuna, in black and white


India today still exists spread across generations and centuries: old and new, modern and traditional, renovated and decrepit, built-up and torn-down, present and past.

A simple, fuzzy black and white photo of today can seem like something from a different era. Here, the squalid but holy Yamuna river flows behind the Taj Mahal.

I tell my students that in the context of photojournalism, black and white photography is too often a artistic gimmick. Not always, but most of the time. I feel grayscale makes an image look more “stunning” by covering up poor lighting and colors and adding contrast. I argue, if an image can run in color — and if the goal of journalism to is to capture reality — it should run in color.

So a gimmick, yes. But a beautiful one, nonetheless.

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