I said if you’re thinkin’ of being my brother it don’t matter if you’re black or white.
~Michael Jackson (Black or White)
What does Michael Jackson have to do with sports? That’s probably what you’re asking yourself right now, isn’t it? Sometimes, I think in song lyrics. I could be watching a game and a simple statement by an announcer can have me thinking about a song.
So tonight, while looking at Instagram, I started singing Michael Jackson’s Black or White. Specifically, while looking at the NHL’s Instagram feed.
I never thought I’d be using a Michael Jackson quote in one of my posts, let alone a post discussing the NHL. But, here we are.
Why, you ask? Because of the #WinterClassic.
The annual New Year’s Day event that is the Winter Classic (outdoor hockey on New Year’s Day) was held today. All of the planning both for the game and the social side came to fruition at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. While the game came to an exciting last-minute game-winning goal end, what grabbed my attention was the NHL’s Instagram account.
Scrolling through my Instagram timeline, I’m used to seeing the varying filters (Rise, Mayfair, X-Pro II). But, there is just something about a black-and-white photo that stops me in my tracks. I don’t know if it’s the lack of the color filters that stops me or how the lack of color that forces you to focus on the subject itself.
Take this one for instance.
There isn’t much to the image. At least, not at first glance. Maybe that’s the point. Just a stunning image of Chicago Blackhawks goalie, Corey Crawford. The commentary that goes with it though, adds an extra touch:
Let the Image Tell the Story
Being a goalie is a lonely job. You can be the hero one minute and the goat the next. You’re the last line of defense. If a puck gets past you, it’s a goal for the other team. It’s up to you, the goalie, to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Marketers call that image telling a story. Perhaps that’s true in a marketing sense. But I, as a fan, just think that’s a cool pic of a goalie on the ice…all by himself. I understand the concept of a goalie being by himself in the literal sense and the imagery of the goalie as I explained above.
Sports fans get it. We watch the games. We know what we’re looking at when we see sports images. Usually, they are in color. Especially on Instagram. Even then, some color filter has been used to jazz it up and make it stand out. For me though, the black-and-whites clear out the color clutter and just lets the picture tell its own story.
As I went through a few of the other pictures, there were other great black-and-white images on the NHL’s feed. And, not just today either. But, the ones from today were eye-catching enough for me to tweet this:
— E Sunny Cadwallader (@CadChica) January 1, 2015
That lower right picture that you can’t see? Yeah, it’s good. See below.
The NHL Is Not Alone
The NHL isn’t the only league using black-and-white effectively. I received this tweet reply earlier this evening from the UFC’s Social Media Manager, @UFC_Shanda
— Shanda (@shanda) January 2, 2015
Needless to say my curiousity was piqued. A peek at their Instagram feed was spot on. This, in particular, was terrific – behind-the-scenes footage leading up to a marquee event. Showing the fans the work and effort the fighters go through in preparation for a fight.
What is it about black-and-white photography that is so appealing?
I don’t think there is one answer for that question. Art appreciation, in any form, is subjective. What appeals to you might not appeal to me. But, I keep coming back to the word “simplicity”. There is just a simplicity to black-and-white images that can take a colored image to a different level. For me, it helps me to focus on just the subject, realize the story in it…and yes, even imagine the story behind the story.
Powerful and appealing.
To see this in action, read this fstoppers.com post on a recent sale of a black-and-white photo that sold for…wait for it…$6.5 million.
By the way, the photographer sold another image on the same day for $2.4 million.
It Don’t Matter If You’re Black Or White
Great job by both the UFC and this crew from the NHL
— tina jain 👩🏽💻 (@tweeterjain) January 1, 2015
If they continue to include stadium images like this, I will gladly double-tap it every single time.