There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. ~ Ansel Adams
What do you, a photographer, think or feel or desire when making an image? How do you feel about the photograph or its subject? What are you telling me, the viewer, with the image? How are you, a photographer, in the image?
Without words to answer such questions you have but one avenue to follow: Create an interpretation of the thing you photograph that I can understand, or find evocative, or that teaches me, or that I can take with me in some fashion, by applying your creativity and mastery of craft.
Why then, why why why, do so many photographers – some very good – duplicate images in both color and black and white in their galleries, even being so egregious as to display them side-by-side?
In my view, this states to me, the viewer of the photograph, nothing better than that you have no clue what you think, feel or desire. It means that you having nothing of importance to say. It means that what I‘m viewing is just another photograph – ordinary, meaningless, soulless.
This practice deletes the notion of fine art from the offending photographer’s work by creating the false perception that photography is easy, that being a photographer is as easy as taking a photograph. It dilutes the work of photographers who seriously pursue the creation of interpretive photographs because it confuses the consuming public about what fine art photography is.
I also think the practice implies that you, the guilty photographer, have only one idea in mind – to sell a pretty picture. Hear me right – there’s nothing wrong with selling prints. Just don’t call a print fine art if that moment of capture, that experience, the image itself has so little personal value that you’ll duplicate it from color to black and white or vice versa because “they both look good” or “you can’t decide which one you like better”.
I suggest that if you do any of these things, stop taking photographs and reassess your photographic goals. I suggest that if you do both, stop taking photographs altogether because you dilute the value of fine art photography for everyone.