James Walters

Why Photographers Wear Black

James Walters
Why Photographers Wear Black

I'm often asked why photographers always seem to wear black.

Attempting to answer that question on behalf of the millions of photographers out there (most of whom live within a few miles of me) would be a gross generalization.  After a close review of the inner-web guidelines on blogging, "gross generalizations" are perfectly acceptable and even encouraged as a catalyst for discussion, so here goes.

I suppose I could go the theoretical route and make a list of the reasons one might outfit themselves this way.  Things like black being slimming and never having to worry about matching colors or patterns.  Black does indeed match everything.  Or I could spin a yarn about how as artists, we want to be taken seriously for our creations, so we dress in drab to take attention from ourselves in order to let our work shine.  You'd probably buy that. 


Side bar:  A few summers ago, I was invited to a "wear white party"  I had never heard of this, but before I made an emergency call to Al Sharpton I did a little research.  Turns out, people have parties where they dress in all white clothing because it's "Summer-y-ish."  I weighed a good bit more then than I do now and I called my friend to express my thoughts (vent) about the theme.   "I don't own anything white!" I told her. "Big dudes like me don't wear white!  We put on white and all the sudden it's like:  'Here comes the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man!'"  This party invite was proving to be an interesting social dilemma.

Being a creative problem solver, I took the license to interpret the contextual meaning of the word "white".  I decided instead of acknowledging it as the bright end of the gray scale, I will recognize it as a proper noun.  Therefore, I adorned myself in the usual black clothing and invited my three new friends, Betty, Barry and Snow.  Let's just say, it was a conversation starter.

Back to the show:  So, why do so many photographers wear black all the time?

It's simple really.  Like other categories of artists, I put my heart and soul into my work to create beautiful things.  The ability to be creative is a value I hold up high, right next to liberty, God and country.  

Economic realities however, require that I exchange much of that creativity in order to pay for things.  Boring but necessary things like toilet paper and insurance.  Each time I do this, a little piece of my soul dies and out of mourning and solemn respect, I wear black.  

Now you know.

How will history remember you? Okay, that's heavy, and we just met, so I'll take the pressure off and begin again by introducing myself. My mission is to help you answer that first question. I want to show you and your world in a way you haven't seen before and at some point hopefully incite a small riot inside your head. An unapologetic Gen-X warrior for self-expression, I help people tell their stories. Not just the pretty and polished, "made for Linkedin" version, but the real essence of their legacy. At my core, I'm a visual artist. The still photographic image has been my story telling medium for decades. Now I use words, images and on the rare occasion images in motion to push others to be more, do more and express more than they originally thought was reasonable. Are you still reading this? Really? I'm impressed. Moving on... I am Southern, though not fried. In my view, Bar-b-que should be enjoyed with any sauce on hand at the time. There is no need to quibble over which style of sauce best compliments. The real question is, "slaw or hushpuppies?" The correct answer is, "yes!".