I’m a fan of black-and-white photography. Without the distraction of color, you can immerse yourself in the tones that are somehow both simple and visually intricate. The depth lies in the beauty of gray tones in which patterns and forms come to the forefront of the image. Gradients are more pronounced. Textures come alive.
Recently while jamming through my work day behind the scenes here at Val in Real Life HQ, I revisited one of my favorite songs from the band Live called “The Beauty Of Gray”. (You can buy the song via my Amazon affiliate link here.) That song got me thinking about the corollary between black-and-white photography and life. Because monotone photography is anything but a simple matter of black and white, just like life.
The beauty lies in all of the tones in between the extremes—what photographers call the mid-tones. Just like images, those mid-tones give our lives depth. In photography it’s a visual feast; in life it is an emotional one. The mid-tones tell the story, the one that isn’t contained within the stark contrasts of the pure white and pure black.
When applied to our mindsets and thinking, viewing the world in black and white both sterilizes life and polarizes our conversations. If we insist on living in the extremes, we’ll always be at odds with one another. And no way to bridge the gap. Without the mid-tones, we can’t see the full picture of life and its intricacies.
This is one of the reasons I value my travels so greatly. Experiencing so many different people, communities, and lifestyles has given me a broader world-view. Travel encourages us to open our eyes and allow the full spectrum of light to overcome the myopia of too-limited personal experiences. Because in that small place, it’s too easy to over-simplify with binary thinking—us/them, on/off, good/bad.
When you step into the bigger world, you see how dynamic humanity actually is. You fill in the missing narrative with real experience. In that mental place—informed, aware, open-minded—you understand that black-and-white judgements have no place in a world filled with the infinite human possibilities and conditions that exist around us every day.
So I leave you with this —