While I enjoy looking at color work by photographers by like Martin Parr, Paul Graham and even Alec Soth– I still don’t feel that I can really see or fully understand color. It could be a product of all the street shooting in black and white that I’ve been doing for the past couple years- in The Ongoing Moment Geoff Dyer alludes to something like this when he talks about the start of color photography with the scorn heaped on photographers who clearly saw in black and white but attempted color as opposed to later photographers of the 1970’s and 80’s who clearly saw in color from the start.
I feel like i’m still trying to “solve color as a separate problem” instead of intuitively seeing and shooting in it as naturally as I do black and white.
Part of the issue is that I don’t feel like I can trust color to be accurate to what I saw- this may be in large part due a lack of work flow around my scanner (an Epson v700) or a lack of familiarity with film stocks. Each time I scan a color transparency or negative I get at best a darkened version compared to what I see when I hold it up to the light or at worst a washed out negative scan that requires me to turn on the Epson scan software’s color restoration which sets off alarm bells in my head as I assume the Epson software is making automated judgement calls around proper exposure and color levels that I’m too uneducated on to correct for in something like Adobe Lightroom.
Or maybe its that I’m just not interested enough in it to bother learning to start with, as none of this can really be that complicated- when I think of the work I look at for inspiration its almost always my copy of In The Balkans but rarely my copy of American Surfaces.
Or maybe its a comfort thing- I enjoy a lot more than just shooting with black and white, I like to still develop and do my own proofs. If I ever have issues with my scanner, I can always compare the results of my scans against my analog contact sheets to see the difference- if I don’t like the feel or the texture I can change developers or switch up my film stock- to some extent the hands on work allows me to feel like I’m refining a process that’s already set in motion, or possibly gives me the mental illusion that what I am doing is worth my time because it takes time to do.