Color or Black and White?
To be a good photographer, you absolutely must be a good photographer in black and white. Even if you prefer color in almost every circumstance, you still need to hone your skills in black and white first. Learning photography in color without first learning it in black and white is like trying to learn algebra without knowing basic arithmetic. Everything you learn about black and white photography will transfer to your color photography.
But once you get it down, how do you know whether to do a shot in black and white or in color? Take a look at this shot:
One person left this comment about the picture:
I've photographed it a couple times and had never thought of this angle in black and white!I get a lot of comments like this, comments to the effect of "What made you think to do this in black and white?" This is the wrong question to be asking! In my mind, every time you set yourself up to take a shot, you should think of it as a black and white. Do black and white every time unless you have a really good reason to do it in color. The colors must be very compelling, either because they really pop, or because the muted tone adds something distinctive to the shot. If the color doesn't really add much of anything, do it in black and white!
Try an experiment for yourself if you can: take the same pictures in both black and white and color and compare them. Color photography does tend to hide flaws in the photo, but if it's a high quality picture it will usually look better in black and white. See for yourself with your own work!