Every photographer has his own style of shooting to capture memorable images, but what makes these images truly great? While the content of the image itself plays a large role, whether an image is presented in color or black and white can also have a significant impact on the photograph.
If you were to look at an image captured in color, then look at that same image as black and white, chances are that it would speak differently to you, with an entirely different message. In fact, the whole mood of an image can be changed by the decision of how to show it. Images full of emotion might be better presented in black and white, whether its a tearful bride receiving that last kiss from dad as they walk down the aisle or the excitement of being announced as husband and wife for the first time. Without color, the background elements and environmental distractions are eliminated and the emotion of the scene becomes clearer.
A photograph of a couple walking on the beach, or frolicking in a field of sunflowers would probably present better in color, as the color is very much part of the story. In these situations, color helps to narrate the event by offering a sense of place and conjuring up a feeling of what it would be like to be there. It is likely that the portrait of a flower girl in her new dress would have more appeal to family when it is presented in color because there is an emotional attachment or characteristic such as the youthfulness of the little girl, and its a representation of how beautiful she looked that day. However, the image of the same little girl in the arms of her daddy, exhausted from dancing and the excitement of the day, may better tell the story in black and white.
Typically, the overall the choice of black and white vs. color is subjective and based on the content of the image and the story it tells. Often, opting to use color may be the best way to convey subjects and scene better, but if the image lacks impact in color, you might find a stronger message in black and white. The choice can be tough, but if you look closely, one version will clearly present itself as the best representation to you.