Beginner's Guide to Photography: Why Black and White Is the Best Place to Start
Black and White photography is the place to start if you are serious about becoming a better photographer.
Go back to the dark ages before digital. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth and the equivalent of Adobe Lightroom was a small piece of card on the end of a wire. The first thing beginner photographers would learn is to shoot, develop and print a roll of black and white film. These are the benefits to learning to shoot without color with your digital camera.
1. Start Simple .
If you wanted to learn music as a child, you probably started with a recorder. You did not get handed a double-headed guitar and a book of Zeppelin riffs. Learning photography is very similar. Start with the simplest form of the medium and as you master those elements add things. A Standard lens and black and white images are as simple as it gets.
2. You Learn to Pre-Visualise
By disregarding color, you have to work a lot harder to create great pictures. A beautiful sandy beach in tropical sunshine? An easy shot in color becomes just expanses of gray. In monochrome you have to find subjects that fit the medium and think about what you shoot before you click the shutter. This pre-visualization is somehow the most valuable skill a photographer can develop.
3. Composition and Form Become Much More Important.
Without color, composition and form are your essential tools for making a good photo. Learning to see shapes and form in abstract helps you compose better pictures later on. Learning is all about creating good habits, and black and white helps you do that. Photographers who started by shooting in this way tend to be very strong on composition, because that is your main tool for creating strong photos. You can not use strong color to catch the eye.
4. Evaluating Exposure is Much Easier.
Blank shadows or blown out highlights are much easier to spot in gray scale. In color sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between a color cast and bad exposure, and you can tie yourself in knots trying to work out what to correct and in what proportion. Making mono images with detail from the highlights to the shadows is a good way to sharpen your exposure skills, and that makes it easier to deal with color later on.
Conclusion: Adding Skills to a Solid Base is the Best Way to Make Steady Progress.
Once you have started to master the simple things, you then have a solid base to build on. You can try to master different lenses, add color or start using flash knowing that you have learnt the basics. Studying anything is like building a house. You have to start with solid foundations and making great black and white images is the best foundation any photographer can have.