A World Without Gray: Philosophically & Photographically

I have a confession.  I’m a very black and white thinker.  Gray scares me.  Why can’t it stop wallowing in indecision?  Why can’t it choose one way or the other?  Black or white, white or black!  Why?!

As I grow and experience more of life, as I come to know more people from different cultures and backgrounds, and as I have more opportunities to travel and read, my faith in a black and white worldview is pierced through with fantastic beams of gray.  I’m coming to see that gray need not be feared.  It’s the place where conversation happens.  It’s a place of tension, of challenge and growth.  In politics, philosophy, religion, and relationships, gray is middle ground.  It’s the place where we can come together and say: “I hear you, and respect you, I may be wrong, but let me show you what I perceive.”  Sometimes when we enter this place of gray we come out the other end to see we may have been wrong, and in our submission to correction, we enter and see a more beautiful world than before.

Some of you may be reading this and saying, “Oh here we go–another convert to pluralism and post-modern thought.”  Though what I am talking about here is influenced by post-modernism (haven’t we all been touched by it?), I’m not arguing for a pluralistic paradigm.  No, I’m merely challenging us to enter into the tension of the gray–to humble ourselves and take the position of a learner, always growing, always seeking.  The truth of the matter is that without gray, life actually becomes very two-dimensional.  And we aren’t two-dimensional in any way whatsoever.  We are multi-dimensional, full of histories.  We are beings full of emotion and thought, actions and non-actions, cultures, experiences, love and heartbreak, brokeness and renewal, doubt and faith.

When we take the time to discover these things in each other, we begin to leave the easily bigoted world view of black & white.

Even in photography, a black & white photo looses all of its depth and becomes flat while the subject often becomes indistinguishable without the color gray:

Alley By Night

Alley People

Towering Control

Chicago Chapel

A Dark Night

Street Violinist


Up Late

The lack of gray in photography can make for some interesting photos…but I wouldn’t want to live in a world as depicted in these photographs.  Nor do I want to pigeon-hole  my worldview into a fear-built black and white paradigm.

The irony is that there is beauty in gray.  In this place of tension, black and white meet and kiss.

Most of these photos were taken on a trip to Chicago, Illinois USA, and a few are from Kansas City, Missouri.

4 thoughts on “A World Without Gray: Philosophically & Photographically

  1. This post is excellent, reaallly excellent. Can’t say it enough, one of the more interesting things I’ve read in a while. I love how your thoughts translated seamlessly into visual images. Thanks for checking out my blog, that’s how i stumbled into yours (following!)


    • Thanks a ton! Yea, I saw your pics via Freshly Pressed and was impressed because they did such a great job of capturing the atmosphere of Thai life. I recently visited Thailand in Feb of 2011 and loved it! Your photos brought back great memories. Thanks for visiting and following!

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