Black and White Photography: tips for capturing the best images

Black and White Photography is a great way to decorate your home. And because we are working with neutral colors, the images will work with just about any color scheme in any room! If you are planning to take the pictures yourself, I have a few tips and ideas that may help you get some great images!

Black and White Photography

Black and White Photography vs. Color Photography

Is a color photograph better than a black and white photograph? Or vice versa? The debate between the artistic expressions of grayscale or multicolored image continues among professional artists and photographers. Black and white enthusiasts believe that color can be a distraction from the meaning and the emotion of a photograph. And color enthusiasts believe that because we see the world in color, that’s how it should be represented. I believe that yes color can be a distraction but when done correctly, color can also bring out the feeling and emotion of a photograph. But the intent of this article is not to choose sides or to start a debate. It’s about understanding the emotion and artistic expression of black and white photography. And, what to watch for when shooting black and white images.

Black and White Photography

Emotions and Black and White Photography

As minimalistic as Black and White photography is, the grayscale images are a powerful medium that can arouse strong feelings. When shooting people, it’s easy to capture the emotion because human beings are naturally expressive. But capturing emotion in landscapes, objects, and everyday scenes can be a challenge. Most often the emotion associated with black & white are feelings of loneliness, sadness, and drama. But B&W can evoke feelings of love and happiness. High contrast is often associated with power and drama  But high contrast can also be used to create simplistic beauty as illustrated in the black and white image of a water lily seen below.

Black and White Photography

Black and White Photography


Contrast and Black and White Photography

The brilliance of a color photo can be enjoyed without the use of sharp contrasts. And because we see in color, training our eyes to see an image that would make a great B&W picture, can be a challenge. With black and white, we are working with grayscale. And sometimes the background and main object of a b&w photo can blend together, creating less depth and less separation of objects. Thus, the image can appear dull and boring. So when choosing a scene, look for images with contrast and slightly different tones. Look for sun and shadows. This can be achieved just by changing the cameras angle. Below is an example of what I am talking about. A simple chain stretched from one pole to another. As you can see in the first image, it was shot in the shade with very little contrast and very little separation between the background and the foreground. The second image is of the same chain but with sunshine which creates more contrast…and separates the main object from the background.

Black and White Photography
Bad Contrast
Black and White Photography
Good Contrast

Composition and Black and White Photography

There is much to know when composing a photograph and I’m not going to get into too much depth on this subject. But simply, the composition is how our eyes move through an image. And good composition will guide a viewers eye’s to the most important part of a photograph. When you are framing your shot remember we read left to right, so your eyes will instinctively move from the left side of an image to the right side. The composition is created by using lines, light, objects, and textures and if you are shooting images of still life where you are placing objects to be photographed, then placement and framing will be key to good composition. If you are shooting landscapes or everyday scenes, then framing and cropping will be how good composition will be achieved.

Black and White Photography

High Resolution and Black and White Photography

And finally, whether you are shooting with your camera phone or a DSLR (raw setting for DSLR), you will want to shoot at the highest resolution possible. If you get a great image that you want to blow it up to poster size or bigger, High resolution is the way to go!

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