Thursday, September 24, 2009

Colorful characters?

I've heard that three occurrences make a trend, so here's the latest trend I've observed. A number of colorful, creative types who have started or manage top-notch design firms are losing their vibrancy. Well, not them -- it's their photos. A quick glance at my "Network Updates" homepage on LinkedIn shows more than a few are now using black & white portraits.

I know B&W can be more dramatic, with rich tones across the gray scale, but consider the medium: The Internet, with a photo smaller than a postage stamp. Just how much detail is possible?

Actually, I'm a fan of B&W photos, having grown up souping negatives from film cameras and watching images emerge in darkroom developer trays. An Ansel Adams exhibition can still bring me to tears. The use of B&W to stand out from the clutter of color can be quite effective -- until everyone starts doing it.

Maybe a postage stamp isn't such a bad model for the kind of photo to use on a social networking site. Consider the Simpsons postage stamps unveiled in May. Simple. Colorful. Memorable. Almost makes you want to pay bills the old-fashioned way: by mail.

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