When color photography first came out, everyone was excited. Now we could see things in the colors they actually are seen. Slowly over time black and white faded out and was seldom used. Along came digital and it started in color as we expected color from digital, just like we did from our film.
Now black and white images get noticed as they stand out from the sea of color photographs. They add an artistic value in the eyes of many consumers of photography. They create a feeling and look that just isn’t there in color.
Take the image show here. It would be very different in color. Sure it would contain more information about the tone of her skin, is she pale, tan, darker or lighter than you. In black and white it is difficult to infer. What becomes more important is the shapes and how light catches it.
Shadows vs light become the key to defining an image. Creating a digital image is not as simple as choosing black and white on your camera or in Photoshop. You need to plan ahead of time to create the textures and mood you desire. Lighting will be planned differently to get the contrast desired.
Sure I use the B&W setting on my camera to preview the idea. I also tweak those settings to fit my vision of the shot to aid in my set-up.
Colored filters are often used to create to change the color relationships when converted to black and white. In color it would throw a skin tone way off, but in black and white it can enhance or reduce features as you desire.
I like to explore black and white when create maternity images as it brings them to another level. I find clients all love seem to love it too.