More on FAQ #801

801. Why aren’t black-and-white (monochrome) photographs disqualified by the Trust Checklist for misrepresenting the appearance of the scene depicted?

Because “misrepresentation” is judged by the standards of respected international news agencies (as per Q7), and black-and-white photographs have been a trusted staple of news photography for more than 100 years.

Many of the most widely trusted photographs in the world have been in black-and-white. (Some documentary photographers have said that their photos seem to be more trusted when in black-and-white than in color!)

As a result of this historical association with “newsphotos,” black-and-white photographs long ago became a part of the public’s photographic literacy.

Few members of the general public trust a photograph less when it is non-deceptively converted (see #786) to black-and-white. Viewers’ trust of black-and-white photographs has survived even though many newspaper photographs are now published in color.

When it comes to rinairs and “not misrepresenting the appearance of the scene depicted” (Q7), there are no comparable “light”-related anomalies that enjoy the privileged position of black-and-white photographs.

See also #803.