Colour or mono?

Colour or mono, how I decide

The vast majority of my work is mono, or to be more precise sepia toned. So how do I decide whether to go with colour or mono for an image? I shoot everything in colour in camera and then covert to sepia in the computer. I find there’s more control doing it that way. The camera’s software is not as precise or cannot be controlled on how it coverts into monochrome.

Now and again I’ll change my camera’s preview to show monochrome, even though it will still shoot in colour onto the memory card. I change the preview normally for customers. They can struggle to imagine what a preview colour image would look like in mono. This is understandable as we’re used to seeing everything in colour through our eyes. So sometimes it’s difficult for people to imagine what a particular image would look like once it is turned to monochrome.

How do I decide whether to go with colour or sepia. For me, I find that more than often than not, a particular shot shouts out to be a colour one. Almost always I find I prefer the mono (sepia) version. Because of this predominant choice of using sepia it tends to mean that many people recognise my images purely on the toning alone. 

You decide…

Do you prefer the colour or the sepia version of this image?

[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”8″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_pro_film” override_thumbnail_settings=”1″ thumbnail_width=”120″ thumbnail_height=”90″ thumbnail_crop=”0″ images_per_page=”20″ image_spacing=”5″ border_size=”1″ frame_size=”20″ border_color=”#CCCCCC” frame_color=”#FFFFFF” display_type_view=”default” ngg_triggers_display=”always” ngg_proofing_display=”0″ captions_enabled=”0″ captions_display_sharing=”1″ captions_display_title=”1″ captions_display_description=”1″ captions_animation=”slideup” order_by=”imagedate” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]I’ve gone with the colour version. For me, the thing that nails the decision to use colour is the yellow boxing gloves. They contrast nicely with the grey background and work well against Arabella’s skin tone, hair colour and white top. The image has more punch (haha) and presence in colour. Whilst I don’t mind the sepia version, I do find the colour version much stronger with more impact. 

There’s no hard and fast rule. There’s no right or wrong. Each image is judged on its merits and the decision to go mono or colour is purely based on upon that particular image. As mentioned before, around 98% of my work is sepia. So it’s rare that I choose colour. 

2 thoughts on “Colour or mono?

  1. Graham B

    Hi John

    Since attending your excellent studio lighting course I have been slowly trying to develop my own style which loosely is translating into fetish with a single colour theme. For this reason, and in this case, I really love the colour version of this picture. Both versions work of course and the sepia version very much has the Tisbury stamp of recognition. The colour version less so ( mainly because it’s in colour) but the yellow and symmetry of the gloves are great and give the image real punch !!


    P.S – sorry couldn’t resist the pun !!

    1. John Post author

      Thanks Graham.
      I’m glad to hear you are progressing and developing your approach and style with your photography, that’s great to hear.


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