Let your black and white photos shine with these four tips


You don't need to shoot in color to shoot brilliant pictures. Sometimes black and white is the best option if you want to create drama, depth, and drive focus toward the details of an image. Here are a few tips to help you improve your black and white shots.

enhance BW photos

Be the driver

As a photographer, it's your job to drive the viewer and the viewer. You can set up the composition to emphasize what you want, to highlight what you feel is the "star" of the shot. Black and white is a prominent tool in any photographer's toolbox when it comes to driving the view and viewer. Use it to your advantage whether you want to highlight the details or lack of more information - yes, both.

Monochromatic can mean allowing the eye to focus on what is essential. Black and white photography can leverage negative space to its advantage driving the eyes toward that which matters in the image. Think of an art gallery or an art museum. How do they display their art? Typically, the wall surface area (negative space) is far greater than the amount of wall space occupied by the painting. Why? Because the negative space drives the emphasis toward the art. You can use black and white - even color, at times - to do the same.

black and white photo

Be a storyteller

If you remove color from an image, you remove the color distraction. With some compositions, this allows you to tell the story better. The most important details of the story become more apparent once you remove color. There's no distraction from unnecessary information. The viewer can see that which truly matters to the story of the image. So, be the storyteller. Compose your shot by thinking of two things:

  1. The story you want to tell.

  2. The details which matter most if you remove color from the story.

be a storyteller in your photography

Tone and texture matter

Ansel Adams was (and still is) the king of black and white landscape photography because he knew how to use the light and dark contrasts to highlight the tones and textures of the landscape, including the sky. It can take years of practice to perfect this, but it can and should be done if you're serious about black and white photography.

If you can develop your black and white landscape photography, you can easily apply that skill to other kinds of images in black and white. The trick is to identify the critical areas of texture in an image and play with the contrasts to draw out the textures and tones. Again, presets can go a long way toward helping you do this in post-production editing.

black and white landscape photography

Think of the geometry

Black and white photography lends itself very well to architectural and other photography that is geometrical. The contrasts of light and shadow serve to highlight the patterns and shapes of a scene.

Use B&W Lightroom presets to help you better intensify the variations and lines for a crisper, more dramatic look!