Yes, colour can be distracting. Yes, it sometimes confuses composition, and leads your eye where it should not go. Yes, it is often even looked “down” upon by photographers who love the intellectual abstraction that monochromatic images bring, to the point where some photojournalists give up on colour altogether.
But of course colour can provide glorious emphasis, focus and, in rare occasions, tell a story all by itself. Colours carry simple and actionable meanings (like the red in a stop sign) as well as many symbolic or even poetic meanings (think of the way we symbolize passionate love with red).
And of course we mostly see the world in colour. Some of my favourite photos use colour gloriously in ways that emphasize that experience and don’t detract at all from the story.
When I process my images, they are in black and white unless there is a “colour story” to be told. Sometimes that’s just an eye colour; sometimes, a background that ties a composition together; sometimes, it’s a portrait with a wonderful colour “frame,” like this one.
For those interested, this was taken with an M9 and one of my favourite Canadian made lenses: the M75 1.4, shot under available tungsten light at the very end of a (great!) wedding.