GMAT : Analysis of An Argument

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An Argument

86. The following appeared as part of an article in a photography magazine.

When choosing whether to work in color or in black-and-white, the photographer who wishes to be successful should keep in mind that because color photographs are more true-to-life, magazines use more color photographs than black-and-white ones and many newspapers are also starting to use color photographs. The realism of color also accounts for the fact that most portrait studios use more color film than black-and-white film. Furthermore, there are more types of color film than black-and-white film available today. Clearly, photographers who work in color have an advantage over those who work in black-and-white.


Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underline the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate in conclusion.


The author concludes that photographers who work in color hold a competitive advantage over those who work in black-and-white. To support this conclusion, the author claims that the greater realism of color accounts for its predominant use in magazines and portraits. The author also points out that newspapers now use color photographs and that there are more type of color film than black-and-white film available today. This argument is problematic in several important respects.

First, the argument unfairly assumes that working in color is necessary in order to gain an advantage. The author identifies only two areas - magazine and portrait photography - where color predominates. It is possible that the overall demand for black-and-white photography remains high.

Moreover, the author provides no evidence that the realism of color photography is the reason for its predominance. The predominant use of color may be due to other factors- - such as consumer preferences or relative costs of film - which might change at any time.

Second, the argument unfairly assumes that a photographer must make an either/or choice between the two types of photography. This assumption presents a false dilemma, since the two media are not necessarily mutually exclusive alternatives. Common sense tells us that a photographer can succeed by working in both media.

Third, the fact that more kinds of color film are available than black-and-white film accomplishes little to support the argument. The difference in number might be insignificant and the distinctions among the types of color film might be negligible. In fact, by implying that more choices in film type affords a photographer a competitive advantage, the author actually undermines his larger argument that working solely in color is the best way to succeed in the field of photography.

Finally, the argument ignores other factors - such as initiative, creativity, technical skills and business judgment - that may be more important than choice of medium in determining success in photography. A poorly skilled photographer may actually be disadvantaged by working in color insofar as color work requires greater skill and insofar as color photographers face keener competition for assignments.

In conclusion, this argument oversimplifies the conditions for gaining an advantage in the field of photography. To better evaluate the argument, we need more precise information as to how large a portion of all photography work today is accounted for by color work. To strengthen the argument, the author must convince us that a photographer must choose one medium or the other rather than working in both.

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