Black and white portrait photography is a dramatic way to capture your subjects. Although it is often considered an old-fashioned medium, black and white pictures are increasingly popular.

Black and white portrait photography has been around for a long time. In the early days of photography, it was the only option.

Today, black and white portraits have regained popularity, especially among fine art photographers.

Shooting in black and white helps to simplify the composition of a photograph by removing distractions caused by color.

It can help to focus on the subject of your portrait and their expression. And it can add a timeless quality to an image.

In this guide, we’ll look at some tips for shooting portraits in black and white.

We’ll also examine how you can use Adobe Lightroom to convert color images into striking black and white portraits.

black and white portrait photography

What Is black and white portrait photography?

Black and white portrait photography is a style of photography that makes use of only black and white colors.

In the past, there was no digital technology that could blend black and white photography perfectly.

Now, there are many photographers out there who are doing this type of work to capture the essence of the people they are shooting in black and white.

Black and white portraits make a statement about who you are as a person because you can’t hide your feelings from others when you have your face captured on camera.

It’s something that you have to live with no matter what happens in your life so far, so it makes a statement about who you are as a person in many ways.



The word portrait refers to a picture of a person. The word black means dark and white means clear or bright.

Black and white make the perfect contrast..

The term “Black And White” also refers to a picture that has both dark tones and light tones.

Monochromatic”means it has only one color tone – either white or black.

Portrait photography was first introduced in 1839 by Robert Cornelius.

It was known as daguerreotype. He used this method to immortalize his family members who died during a cholera epidemic


Mathew Brady, another famous photographer, used this method to immortalize soldiers of both the Union and Confederate armies during the American Civil War in 1863.

Why Shoot Black And White Portraits?

When taking a photo, the lighting, background and subject pose all play a role in the quality of the image.

However, another important factor is color.

Treating yourself to an all-black-and-white portrait is not just for artists anymore! 

Color photography will always be popular, but black and white photography is gaining ground. Aesthetically speaking, black and white photography has its own unique charm — it’s classy and timeless.

It’s no surprise that many people love taking pictures in black and white. If you don’t know where to start with this style of photography, continue reading for some tips.


The light that you use also plays a massive role in the quality of your image. You want the light to be soft so it does not create harsh shadows on your face or body.

If there are harsh shadows, they should be directed away from your face. This way your image looks more natural and flattering.


A common mistake people make when taking black and white photos is having too much going on in the picture’s background. You need to make sure that your background  is not distracting from your face or body.

Should You Shoot In Black And White Mode On Your Camera?

Whether you’re a professional photographer looking to capture the perfect image or a casual shutterbug, shooting in black and white can be a great way to add some character to your pictures. 

However, this may not always be an option.

One of the reasons that black and white works so well as an artistic medium is because it creates a more intimate relationship between the photographer, the subject and the viewer of the image.

With black and white photography, there are no distractions—no color or distracting patterns to detract from the overall message of the image. 

Do You Need To Shoot In Black And White Mode?

Even though modern cameras have a setting that allows you to shoot in black and white mode, it might not be something you need to do. Most digital cameras are capable of producing vibrant colors in their images.

While there are some instances when shooting in black and white mode might be helpful (e.g.,  night with only street lights as illumination), generally speaking you can probably get away without it.

9 Tips For Stunning Black And White Portraits

Before you go out and spend a lot of time and money on studio lights, tripods and backdrops, there is an easy way to get the same stunning results in your own home.

Treat your living room like a photo studio for a day, and use these tips for creating stunning black-and-white portraits.

The best part about this method is that you don’t need any fancy equipment, just some basic household items that everyone has lying around. The following tips are geared toward creating black-and-white portraits with a soft, dreamy look.

If you prefer a more dramatic look, keep reading for your bonus tip. 

Window light is probably the easiest and cheapest lighting option available to you.

It’s available whenever the sun is shining (which means all day long), which makes it perfect when you’re on a budget and can only shoot during daylight hours. Window light also tends to be very soft, which helps reduce harsh shadows on your subject’s face.

Black and white portraits are some of the most gorgeous you can shoot. But they’re also tricky to execute. Here are our tips for getting great black and white portraits, with examples of each tip.

 Setting Up A Black And White Photo Shoot

There are several ways to set up a Black and White photo shoot, but this is the one can be very effective if you have the right props.

TIP: You can use any clothes that you have at home, but it helps if they are dark (preferably black). 

Things you will need for this shoot are: 

  • A bed or sofa that can be used as a background (preferably white), 
  • A T-Shirt (the darker the better),
  • Jeans (the darker the better), 
  • A pair of shoes which match the color of your shirt, 
  • An old hat (to be worn by your model),
  • A half open door frame. You can use any other prop too, but this is my favorite.

Once you have the above items, follow these steps:

Step 1: Lay your model down on the floor on top of an old white sheet or table cloth. 

Step 2: Make sure you have a bed in front of her for her to lean against.

Setting up a black and white photo shoot is all about preparing and creating the right atmosphere.

Black And White Photography Editing Tips

Now, I will show you how to edit black and white photos. I’m going to use Adobe Lightroom for this tutorial, but any photo editing program will do.

First, open up your photo in Photoshop or your preferred software. 

Start by making your exposure adjustments. Then increase the contrast, add some clarity to it and boost the blacks (or shadows).

Don’t go overboard with it. Post-crop vignette is a must have when editing black and whites.

It helps tofocus on the subject and create that dramatic look .

Next, I’ve added a couple of presets from the film pack (available here) and some grain via Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (also available here).

The last thing I did was add some sharpening. But don’t go overboard with this one either (especially if you are working with a high-res image).

Stay tuned for more tutorials coming soon.

How To Decide Between Color vs Black And White Portraits

If you’re in the market for a portrait, but aren’t sure what kind you want – color or black and white – here are some things to consider before making up your mind.


If a black and white photo speaks to you in a way that a color one doesn’t, then by all means go with B&W. There’s no rule saying you can’t have both types of photos of your kids.

You can also choose to have some photos in color and others in black and white. Some people even choose to turn their favorite color photos into black and white prints.


Black and white portraits concentrate on the subject more than color photographs do.

When there’slots of color, it’s hard to tell where the focus is going to be, while a B&W photo is instantly recognizable as being about the person in it.


Black and white photos tend to be more timeless than color photos .Films like Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz come to mind as examples of this.They were released decades ago, but if you took out all the colors, nothing about them would seem dated.

Should I Shoot In Black And White Or Convert later when editing photos?

I’m quite a big fan of black and white photography, it’s a great way to add depth and mood to your images. However, shooting in black and white is not always a good idea.


If you want to take B&W photography to the next level, try shooting with a polarizing filter. It works great for scenes involving water and reflections or even cityscapes when there’s lots of glare from windows.

Black and White makes it easier for the viewer to focus on what you want them to see. So if it’s an image that has a lot of clutter, conversion to black and white will help eliminate visual noise.

I personally prefer to convert my pictures during editing as this allows me to control how dark or light each area is. It also helps me remove distractions from the main subject in my image.

Shooting in black and white can be a very effective way to improve your photographs. It can also be very difficult, so don’t feel obligated to do it if you’re not comfortable.

The black and white effect can be instantly recognizable or more subtle, depending on how you edit the photo later. Here is the procedure I use to convert my photos to black and white later when editing.

Use Negative Space For A Striking Portrait

If you’re looking for a new way to take photos, consider using negative space. This method of photography involves showing the object of your picture in a minimalist style by using the surrounding area as part of the picture itself.

It is true that you can do this with any subject but it’s more effective with portraits. Negative space is an effective way to make your subject stand out from the crowd.

Here are some helpful tips to help you get started on using negative space with portraits:

Choose high contrast areas for your background – If you want to create a unique portrait that stands out from the crowd, then choosing a high contrast area for your background should be one of your top considerations. If you want to portray a strong and powerful image, then use a dark background such as black or grey.

If you want something more subtle, then opt for light backgrounds such as white or creamy colours. By choosing a high contrast area as a backdrop, you will draw attention to your subject while making it appear striking and bold.

Negative space is a powerful tool in photography. When used correctly, it can make your pictures more compelling.

Final Thoughts

I hope these tips help you when planning your next black and white portrait shoot.

Remember that there is no right or wrong way to shoot a portrait, it’s all about the artist’s vision

In color photography, we often use bright backgrounds or “high key” lighting to separate our subject from their background. In black and white photography this effect is achieved with contrast.

In order to create separation between your subject and their background, you will need to place them on the opposite side of the spectrum — dark backgrounds or “low key” lighting. With this style of lighting, the only way for your subject to stand out is if their features are sharp, clear, and defined.

This will cause your subject’s face to stand out against a dark background. If you plan on shooting in black and white, try to create this effect as much as possible.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments section. If you liked the article, please share it with your friends on social media so they can also learn something from it.