5 tips for black and white photography

Stephanie Bryan Photography - 5 tips for black + white photography

Black and white imagery is timeless and beautiful. Removing the vibrant colors from an image makes the subject or object being photographed become the main focal point and often evokes strong emotion and feelings for the viewer. Everyone has a different take on how to achieve a black and white image, but here are some things to keep in mind when shooting and processing your images!

1. Shoot in RAW

I'm sure you've heard me say it before, but shooting in RAW will give you control over the detail of your images. Black and white photography is all about the highlights and shadows in a image and being able to tweak those as needed can help you when you convert your image to black and white. Some cameras allow you to shoot in black and white while also saving the RAW file (which would have all the data saved) so you could revert the image back to color if you weren't happy with your black and white conversion.

2. Pay attention to the lighting

Just like with color images, it's super important to pay attention to the light. Before you shoot your scene, take a look at the shadows and highlights and see if you can envision how the photo will look in black + white. Pay attention to where the light is falling and how it illuminates your subject.

3. Look for high contrast imagery

An image that has a high contrast between light and dark will be a more dramatic black and white image. Creating depth in your image by placing your subject away from the background can help add contrast to your scene. High contrast between color can also add a more dramatic feel to your image. A light grey and a dark grey likely won't show much different in black and white, but an image with strong dark colors and strong light colors (or white) will definitely pop on a monochromatic image.

4. Pay attention to shadows

While you will want to make sure you don't blow out the highlights in your image, you also want to pay attention to the shadows and the details in the shadows. A strong black and white image will have a good contrast between light and dark and it's important to make sure your shadows aren't too dark or too muddy. Great details in the shadows can make a black and white image pop!

5. Look for lines, shapes, textures + patterns

Patterns, lines, shapes and textures are more visible and apparent when they are black and white because your eye doesn't have to visually process the color in an image. To see lines, shapes and patterns, there needs to be a distinct separate from your subject/object and the background. Repeating patterns, silhouettes, framed subjects and more can make for very interesting black and white images!