Embrace Life’s Nuances with These 50 Black and White Quotes

Life is made up of many shades of gray, and these show how photography can capture its beauty. 

Some people see everything as either black or white.

They fail to see a middle ground.

But life would be so boring and predictable like that.

Instead, life is made up of millions of shades of gray.

This is one reason why people love old black and white photography, or even new pictures made to look old.

The human eye can distinguish over 500 shades of gray, according to a study by the University of California, Berkeley.

The findings highlight the incredible complexity and nuance of black-and-white photography as a means of capturing life’s subtle variations.

They capture something that colored images just can’t seem to grasp. 

Take a moment and appreciate the many shades of gray in life and the beauty of photography through these black and white quotes.

Old black and white quotes about photography

1. “Black and white can transform a scene into something magical.” – Rob Sheppard

magical black and white quotes

2. “Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.” – Sally Mann

3. “All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.” – Leo Tolstoy

4. “Black and white photography erases time from the equation.” – Jason Peterson

5. “When you reduce life to black and white, you never see rainbows.” – Rachel Houston

Black and white quotes about the beauty of photography

6. “Being glamorous is about strength and confidence. It’s black and white- dramatic.” – Catherine Zeta-Jones

7. “Life is in color, but black and white is more realistic.” – Samuel Fuller

black and white quotes on life

8. “Color is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive.” – Eliott Erwitt

9. “There’s something strange and powerful about black-and-white imagery.” – Stefan Kanfer

10. “Color is everything, black and white is more.” – Dominic Rouse

11. “Life is not black and white; there is some gray nuance to it.” – Pilou Asbaek

12. “Most of the stories I have covered in 45 years have been gray stories.” – Jim Lehrer

13. “I love the gray area between right and wrong.” – Dan Brown

black and white quotes about right and wrong

14. “Life isn’t black and white. It’s a million gray areas, don’t you find?’’ – Ridley Scott

15. “The color of truth is gray.” – Andre Gide

black and white quotes about gray

16. “In the beginning it was all black and white.”  – Maureen O’Hara

Black and white quotes about life

17. If everything isn’t black and white, I say, ‘Why the hell not?'” – John Wayne

18. “Everything is very black and white for me. I don’t really like playing mind games.” – Zayn Malik

19. “It’s really rare in life that a situation is as black and white as we tend to paint it.” – Aesop Rock

20. “War’s not black and white; it’s gray. If you don’t fight in the gray area, you’re going to lose.” – Marcus Luttrell

21. “Everything’s not black and white. We choose to make bad decisions or not.” – Will Arnett

22. “In the black and white journey of life, one day… someone will come to fill colors in it.” – D.S.

23. “I don’t see the world completely in black and white. Sometimes I do.” – Benicio Del Toro

24. “There are infinite shades of grey. Writing often appears so black and white.” – Rebecca Solnit

black and white quotes about writing

25. “Life isn’t always black and white. You’re not always sure you’re right. At least I’m not.” – Brad Paisley

26. “Life isn’t black and white, so don’t hate the criminal, hate the crime.” – Aly Johnson

27. “I’m very black and white about what I like or don’t like, and I’ve always been that way.” – Ryan Murphy

Black and white quotes about shades of gray

28. “Gray is the color… the most important of all… absent of opinion, nothing, neither/nor.” – Gerhard Richter

29. “In tragedy, it’s hard to find a good resolution; it’s not black and white: it’s a big fog of gray.” – Paul Dano

30. “Sorrows are like thunderclouds, in the distance, they look black, over our heads scarcely gray.” – Jean Paul

31. “Life is about the gray areas. Things are seldom black and white, even when we wish they were and think they should be, and I like exploring this nuanced terrain.” – Emily Giffin

32. “Sometimes we see things as being black or white. Perhaps you have two categories of coworkers in your mind – the good ones and the bad ones. Or, maybe you look at each project as either a success or a failure. Recognize the shades of gray, rather than putting things in terms of all good or all bad.” – Amy Morin

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33. “Gray goes with gold. Gray goes with all the colors. I’ve done gray-and-red painting, and gray and orange go so well together. It takes a long time to make gray because gray has a little bit of color in it.” – Ellsworth Kelly

34. “Everything always looked better in black and white. Everything always looked as if it were the first time; there are always more people in a black and white photograph. It just makes it seem that there were more people at a gig, more people at a football match, than with color photography. Everything looks more exciting.” – Jack Lowden

35. “I know these will become old stories someday and our pictures will become old photographs and we’ll all become somebody’s Mom or Dad, but right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening and I’m here.” – Logan Lerman

36. “Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but black and white films still hold an affectionate place in my heart; they have an incomparable mystique and mood.”― Ginger Rogers

37. “There is always something sad about the old photographs, it is because we know that people in the photos are gone forever.” – Mehmet Murat Ildan

38. “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” — Karl Lagerfeld

More black and white quotes

39. “Black and white is abstract; color is not. Looking at a black and white photograph, you are already looking at a strange world.” – Joel Sternfield

40. “Black and white are the colors of photography. To me, they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.” – Robert Frank

41. “Music photographs in black and white are timeless. I can definitely recount more black and white music photographs I love than I can color ones.”  – Dean Sherwood

42. “With black and white photography, what you have to say counts more than the way you say it.” – Gian Marco Marano

43. “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!” – Ted Grant

44. “One very important difference between color and monochromatic photography is this: in black and white you suggest; in color you state. Much can be implied by suggestion, but statement demands certainty… absolute certainty.” – Paul Outerbridge

45. “One sees differently with color photography than black-and-white… in short, visualization must be modified by the specific nature of the equipment and materials being used.” – Ansel Easton Adams

46. “What I love about Black & White photographs is that they’re more like reading the book than seeing the movie.” – Jennifer Price

47. “I work in color sometimes, but I guess the images I most connect to, historically speaking, are in black and white. I see more in black and white – I like the abstraction of it.” – Mary Ellen Mark

48. “Color tends to corrupt photography and absolute color corrupts it absolutely. Consider the way color film usually renders blue sky, green foliage, lipstick red, and the kiddies’ playsuit. These are four simple words which must be whispered: color photography is vulgar.” – Walker Evans

49. “Black and white creates a strange dreamscape that color never can.”  – Jack Antonoff

50. “While the absence of color may contribute to our appreciation, at the same time it is important to assert that black and white is not photography minus color. Not at all. It’s much more subtle than turning down the color saturation on your television.” – John Beardsworth

Relatable black and white quotes

51. “In black and white there are more colors than color photography because you are not blocked by any colors so you can use your experiences, your knowledge, and your fantasy, to put colors into black and white.” – Anders Petersen

52. “When images are in black and white, they seem timeless. When you see Carrie Otis in an ad from 1989 next to an ad with Klara Wester from 2009, you don’t see a 20-year difference between the pictures.” – Paul Marciano

53. “I think it’s because it was an emotional story, and emotions come through much stronger in black and white. Color is distracting in a way, it pleases the eye but it doesn’t necessarily reach the heart.” – Kim Hunter

54. “I prefer black and white and portrait photography. I like old, you know, interesting faces, so I think black and white brings out the contrast.” – Brooklyn Beckham

55. “There are some old photographs from where if you take anything out, even a chicken or a little bird, the magic will disappear.” – Mehmet Murat Ildan

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56. “Life is better in black and white.” – Unknown

57. “Although humans see reality in colour, for me, black and white has always been connected to the image’s deeper truth, to its most hidden meaning.” – Peter Lindbergh

58. “We are all somewhere or the other a little grey, not black and white. We have our imperfections.” – Kriti Sanon

59. “I don’t find anything black and white; I find grey in every person, and that is what excites me.” – Vetrimaaran

60. “Black and white means photography to me. It’s much easier to take a good color photograph, but you can get more drama into a black and white one.” – Astrid Kirchherr

Inspirational Black and White Quotes about Life

61. “I believe very strongly that when it comes to desire, when it comes to attraction, that things are never black and white, things are very much shades of grey.” – Brian Molko

62. “Black and white photography has the potential to make any photographer a better photographer.” – Rob Sheppard

63. “To see in colors is a delight for the eye, but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.” – Andri Cauldwell

64. “The way I was brought up by my parents and guided through my football life by the influences of various managers means that in some ways I am black and white.” – Stuart Pearce

65. “We’re so quick to make things black and white and to put things in their box. But everything is this mixture – and that’s what this world is – is this blend of different things.” – Matisyahu

66. “The most colorful thing in the world is black and white, it contains all colors and at the same time excludes all.” – Vikrmn

67. “I don’t believe there’s two sides to every story. It’s black and white. There’s right and wrong.” – Joe Wurzelbacher

68. “The choice in politics isn’t usually between black and white. It’s between two horrible shades of gray.” – Lord Thorneycroft

69. “I think if you live in a black-and-white world, you’re gonna suffer a lot. I used to be like that. But I don’t believe that anymore.” – Bradley Cooper

70. “Sometimes couples have to argue, not to prove who’s right or wrong, but to be reminded that their love is worth fighting for.” – Nishan Panwar

Black And White Quotes To Bring Memories

71. “Black and white thinking limits understanding and feedback, two necessary ingredients for successful resolution in creative conflict and successful understanding.” ― David W. Earle

72. “The ignorance of the world often makes people believe that life should be black and white – that you must choose sides – and so the world of colorful gradients goes unadmired.” ― A.J. Darkholme

73. “Black and white is a salt and pepper of colors, for life tastes bland without them.” ― Vikrmn

74. “Black and white, oldest of the vintages, newest of the last season.” ― Vikrmn

75. “Black and white is heaviest of vibrant and at the same time lightest of achromatic.” ― Vikrm

76. “The truth never had any shades of gray – there was always a discernible line between black and white.” ― Kenneth Eade

77. “Black and white, severally incomplete and at the same time completely different.” ― Vikrmn

78. “I never realized before how much of a jurist I am. I try to bring everything back to the basics, to black-and-white situations. The world is not a rainbow.” ― Danny Mekić

79. “Black and white is as if a phoenix of colors has eloped into opacity.” ― Vikrmn

80. “Black and white is a refuge of colors from their own nullity.” ― Vikrmn

Black and White Quotes To Bring You Memories

81. “I remember being on a black-and-white set all day and then going out into daylight and being amazed by the colour.” ― Jeff Bridges

82. “I do remember doing shows strictly in black and white, too, so you’re right.” ― Jim Henson

83. “People will always prefer black-and-white over shades of grey, and so there will always be the temptation to hold overly-simplified beliefs and to hold them with excessive confidence.” ― Thomas Gilovich

84. “The world isn’t black and white, Annie, it’s shades of grey.” ― Tami Hoag

85. “I support any procedure that allows photographers to express themselves, whether that involves color, black and white, platinum, palladium and digital technology.” ― John Sexton

86. “I like making black and white films in natural surroundings, but I much prefer shooting a color film inside a studio where the colors are easier to control.” ― Claude Chabrol

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87. “I love to unwind and watch movies, especially those from the classic black-and-white era.” ― Fred Savage

88. Black and white photography is truly quite a ‘departure from reality’, and the transition from one aspect of visual magic to another was not as complete as many imagine.” ― Ansel Adams

89. “Our personal past is only available to us now through black-and-white film, it’s a medium for communication with the dead, including our dead selves, the way we used to be, which is why we’re drawn to it.” ― Frank Lentricchia

90. “…Do you see things in black and white, or are there shades of gray for you?” “I hope there’s gray…Black and white make things easier, but only if you don’t want to think.” ― Harry Turtledove

Black and White Quotes To Give You Clarity

91. “It’s because I know that life is really black and white that I miss my life of colors.” ― Anthony T. Hincks

92. “A zebra will never see the funny side of things because he is always thinking in black & white.” ― Anthony T. Hincks

93. “You know, one of the things I like about this world, or at least I like about the way we’re presenting this world, is these issues are terribly complicated, not nearly as black and white as we’re led to believe.” ― Aaron Sorkin

94. “This party is old and uninviting, participants all in black and white, you enter in full-blown Technicolor.” ― Brandon Boyd

95. “Any time you stop looking at evil as a black and white thing, it’s helpful. So the fact that there won’t be any obligatory Islamic terrorist stereotypes in movies anymore, that’d be helpful.” ― John Cusack

96. “Any preoccupation with ideas of what is right or wrong in conduct shows an arrested intellectual development.” ― Oscar Wilde

97. “Things are not quite so simple always as black and white.” ― Doris Lessing

98. “There’s so much grey to every story; nothing is so black and white.” ― Lisa Ling

99. “It’s about you. If you win, it’s you; if you lose, it’s you. Black and white. Nowhere to hide.” ― Greg Rusedski

100. “Human nature is not black and white but black and grey.” ― Graham Greene

101. “The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever.” ― James A. Baldwin

102. “Life is much more complex than the black-and-white sound bites that you get on television. There are nuances and shades of gray.” ― Joe Berlinger

103. “There are so many aspects of human sexuality that we’re afraid to talk about, because people still don’t understand it. It’s not just black and white, you know?” ― Sasha Grey

104. “For horror to work, you have to be afraid. You have to keep the monster in a black and white light.” ― Guillermo del Toro

105. “Design in black and white. Add color for emphasis, when your design is complete.” ― Diane Wilson

106. “I read that prior to the advent of color TV, most people dreamed in black and white.” ― Damian Loeb

107. “I really am a guy who can be black and white. I don’t understand, too much, the gray. And truly I can go from one type of character to another type of character.” ― Jean-Claude Van Damme

108. “In a culture defined by shades of gray, I think the absolute black and white choices in dark young adult novels are incredibly satisfying for readers.” ― Maggie Stiefvater

109. “I do not look at the world in terms of black and white – and I find people who do rather scary. I think it’s all shades of grey.” ― E. L. James

110. “I feel you see every crack and bruise with black and white [pictiures] and color distracts usually from the honesty.” ― Nikki Sixx

Which of these black and white quotes is your favorite?

The beauty of black and white quotes lies in their ability to inspire us to see the world from a fresh perspective. By challenging ourselves to explore the middle ground and appreciate the shades of gray in life, we open ourselves up to personal growth and a more balanced outlook.

By embracing life’s complexities and nuances, we can develop a more resilient and empowered mindset, enabling us to navigate challenges with grace and understanding.

Did you enjoy these black and white quotes and sayings?

Which of the quotes is your favorite?

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