Black & White

Back in Black

UNTIL THE MID 1970s, serious fine art photographers did not believe that color was a viable tool of expression. Many felt it was reserved solely for commercial photographers. Color was too literal, many thought – even garish and lurid. It did not provide the opportunity to transform the world as they peered through their viewfinders. These arguments seem anachronistic today.

Or do they?

In Back in Black, participants are encouraged to work exclusively in monochrome by using black and white film in an analog camera, viewing black and white through a digital lens or converting color digital files to black and white through post processing. The juxtaposition and comparison of identical photographs presented in both will be vital to understanding their differences. Inherent issues of black and white vs. color for communicating emotion, metaphor and atmosphere will also be examined. Influential image-makers who have worked in both black and white and color spaces will further illuminate what promises to be invigorating discussion.

James Friedman, a luminary himself in the field of monochrome photography and a student of black and white practitioners Minor White and Imogen Cunningham, will be leading the class. As Jim sees it: “Black and white implores photographers to face the essence of their pictures by scraping away the distractions of color to discover the truth of their personal expression.”

The digital revolution has spawned legions of photographers who have never made photographs in black and white; this workshop will allow those photographers to experience a new aspect of the medium. For those who work mainly in black and white, this workshop provides an opportunity to deepen their understanding of monochrome and emerge with more personally meaningful work.

Every time I’ve opened myself to Jim’s mentoring, my work has taken an exciting quantum leap forward.

Fellowship Recipient,
Ohio Arts Council

© Barbara Ruffini | James Friedman (above)


As a group, we’ll compare and contrast image-making in color and black and white, and weigh the merits of each – with an eye on how the storytelling materializes in different ways. We’ll also discuss the profound impact of black and white on the history of photography and its influence on the modern use of color. Participants will be encouraged to work exclusively in black and white through exercises or a current project in order to expand their awareness of the medium’s full potential.


  • An ability to see the world in variations of tone, and to become aware of new possibilities by shooting in black and white mode
  • A greater understanding of successful black and white photographers, including the challenges they faced and the iconic work they produced
  • The knowledge that your individual style is unique to you but that taking greater risks can deliver surprisingly rewarding results
  • An ability to speak more eloquently about your work and that of other participants by working toward a greater photographic fluency
  • The value of working within a safe and collaborative partnership with other participants to enhance each other’s personal work


Participants will be expected to be proficient in the technical knowledge of their camera and have a demonstrated ability to create successful analog or digital images over the course of time. A willingness to participate actively and in a non-judgmental manner will contribute directly to the enjoyment of the workshop for everyone. For photographers unfamiliar to the instructor, a review of selected images and brief discussion regarding the prospective student’s goals for the class is required.

NOTE: This workshop meets online via Zoom. We encourage participants to install and test the software on your device prior to the workshop.

For more information, email

Back in Black

June 6 – August 1, 2023
Every Tuesday (excl. July 4)
7:00-9:00 p.m. EST
10 (max.) participants


JAMES FRIEDMAN is an acclaimed educator and one of the most talented and uncompromising photographic artists working today. His work has been exhibited internationally and appeared in numerous books and prestigious critical publications. He is an Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer’s Fellow and recipient of the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. He is deeply committed to the growth and development of his students and their craft.

Click here to learn more about Jim’s career accomplishments and view select images from his award-winning bodies of work.