Now that most people take pictures digitally it’s easy to convert them to black and white, but I rarely see any improvement after the conversion. I guess I prefer seeing photos represent the world more closely to the way I actually see the world.
This is especially true for images from the older past. In black and white, older times seem more different than they were. Black and white is harder to relate to, even beyond the fashions and other cues of the time, because seeing the color makes the scene at that time easier to imagine yourself in.
Here’s an example, seven minutes of color film in Berlin in 1945, just after WWII ended.
It doesn’t seem that long ago while as you watch it. Most of the buildings are damaged, everyone is slim, and there aren’t many trees, but people seem to be going about their lives – walking, riding bikes around, or taking a trolley. Some people are smiling while others are shy.
The color in this footage isn’t oversaturated like it can be in older films. So the feel transports you. In black and white the same footage would feel very old and difficult to image yourself in.