There is no question, the cameras of today have come long way over the years. A digital camera you purchase today is capable of taking a picture with the most intricate colors and details. However, for a twist on developing the photos Black and white photos can be more interesting to look at than the original color prints.
It's just my opinion that black and white photos are the best for portraits. Black and white photos of people gives a sharper image, concentrating more on the persons details of their face and body rather then the colors surrounding them.
Something some photographers do is opt to have a little color still in the photo. Some professionals will leave a small spot color inside the black and white photos. This really brings the viewers focus to a focal point.
An example of color left in the image is at a wedding. Black and white photos of the groom and bride, the bride holds her flowers. The photographer enhances the black and white photo to add color to the flowers, and leaves the remaining image untouched. This creates a beautiful contrast in the image.
You could use the above technique with other portraits as well, for instance leaving color in the eye would draw the attention to the person eyes. While still leave the clean classic appearance of black and white photographs. The process is the exact same scenario as the wedding photo.
Personally I like the colorless photos, I usually use my digital camera and create black and white photos from the images I shoot. Using software like Adobe Photoshop there are endless possibilities. Quickly you can learn to modify images, and develop black and white photos that work well with the subject you were photographing.
If there is a lot of color in an image it can make the viewer lose focus easily. Simple and sharp black and white photos offer clarity and ease of focus that can be difficult to attain with a color photo. Some think they would rather have a color image to show off a particular trait, possibly their eyes how ever after reviewing the black and white photos they discover it's even more sleek.
Often artists are drawn to this process. Modeling drawings from people in black and white photos. The images are so sharp and detailed, when working with charcoal or pencil it's especially easier to recreate the image on paper.
With todays technology black and white photos are a cinch for any amateur photographer. Using software like Photoshop and others you can quickly teach yourself the basics and experiment with more or less color as you see fit.