Black & White: Conveying soul and emotion

“When you photograph in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.”

– Ted Grant, Photographer

The elegant simplicity of black and white photography brings a rich emotionality and soul to an image that can be buried in colour photography. These annual reports make extensive use of black and white photography of people, often to add visual impact to their accompanying captions.

AMERSHAM (2002) Of all the reports featured here, the Amersham report leans more heavily on its captions to deliver the message relevant to the content, rather than its imagery. The imagery generally comes off as stock photographs graded in black and white and as a result, can feel slightly inauthentic.

THOMSON CORPORATION (2007) The Thomson report features larger-than-life portraits of individuals accompanying captions printed in colour, that add a flourish to the minimalist design. Prominence is given to the faces of the individuals, with their eyes catching the light in a way that effectively conveys an aura of trust and integrity that is complementary to the captions.

IBM (1997) The 1997 IBM report foregoes its trademark blue colour for a black and white cover with the title ‘The New Blue’. In fact, the only colour on the cover is actually on the rear, where the IBM logo appears. Although colour features prominently throughout the report, the black and white imagery is exclusively of people that serves to highlight the important role they play in shaping IBM and ‘the new blue’.