Daniel Zvereff: On Black and White Documentary Photography

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All images by Daniel Zvereff. Used with permission.

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You’re a photographer that often shoots in color; and very vivid colors! So what creative choices typically make you shoot in black and white instead? 

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 I’m not quite sure if there is a straightforward decision in my mind when working on a project that steers me towards color or black and white. I think its more of a feeling, something I can’t quite explain.

Shooting color and the whole thought process of composition is much different than black and white. So when you go about composing and creating images for black and white, what thought processes are you typically adhering to and what are something that you’re always being conscious of? 

I grew up shooting exclusively in black and white my entire life up until the last few years. When I am shooting color, I am definitely still thinking in terms of black and white, I haven’t changed my thought process at all. I think I produce a better image when negating color from my mindset, I find it distracts me.

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What do you feel black and white does for a photo that color can’t do and do you feel that black and white is still very important to photography? Why? 

I don’t think there is something that color photography can’t do or vice versa. I think it all boils down to a process and idea– thats one of the joys of photography, choosing a medium that best fits ones concept. In the end, whatever it is you are trying to accomplish with your work, there are endless possibilities. 

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What’s your approach when it comes to photographing people for a project? How do you converse with them? 

Every approach is different, mostly, I find its about being open and having a little courage to break out of the comfort bubble of keeping to yourself. A lot of people are really open to being photographed and having a conversation.
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Talk to us about the gear you use and your favorite black and white film? 

I loved tri-x, still do, its not as good as it was in the early 2000s, but still great. I use Leica equipment for digital and 35mm formats. I also have a wonderful Rolleiflex 2.8F and a Mamiya 6 for 120mm format.

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