How to Create Good Black and White Portraits

The most troublesome query I typically ask myself is, “Do I convert this picture to black and white or depart it in colour?” This query is especially troublesome with individuals, as a result of black and white portraits look actually good.

My go to rule is that if the colours within the picture don’t match, usually are not complementary, or just don’t look good, then I convert my picture to black and white.

Tips to Making Black and White Portraits

A lot of individuals choose black and white pictures and due to that I all the time ship to my fashions/shoppers one black and white picture and one edited picture in shade. I principally drive myself to transform all my photographs to black and white, and in some instances, I get stunned as a result of the end result appears actually good.

Black and white is much less forgiving

Flaws in monochrome pictures will mechanically stand out than in colour ones. This is as a result of typically shade distracts the viewer and it may give the impression that the picture is ideal even when the composition, facial features of the mannequin, or lighting usually are not the most effective.

With black and white portraits, you will want to pay extra consideration to mild, composition, distinction, and the entire scene generally.

Tips to Making Black and White Portraits

Lighting for black and white

Contrasty lighting is what makes a black and white picture pop. If you take a look at the work of well-known photographers like Ansel Adams, his photographs stand out due to the sunshine distinction. Fine artwork photographer, Joel Tjintjelaar, explains very nicely separation and the gray scale, tonal distinction, separation and presence and depth. Black and white is all about presence and depth. Most of the time this may be created and enhanced utilizing the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop.

It is essential to review the work of others. For instance, Peter Coulson is a photographer who takes beautiful black and white portraits.

When taking portraits in natural light, all the time use a shallow depth of subject to centre the eye on the eyes and keep away from sluggish shutter velocity because the picture must be utterly sharp.

Tips to Making Black and White Portraits

Taking photographs in the course of the magic hour will give a really flattering end result as the sunshine shall be very tender. In studio periods, a big softbox or window mild will provide you with very mushy mild. For extra contrasty outcomes, the most effective answer outdoor is to photograph through the center of the day and in studio is to use a beauty dish.

The distinction will primarily play within the shadows and it’ll depend upon how darkish would you like your shadows to be.

Tips to Making Black and White Portraits

Plan for black and white

Most of the time, one of the best answer is to have black and white in thoughts for the ultimate picture as a result of you’ll mechanically pay extra consideration to mild and shapes round your mannequin. You additionally want to inform your mannequin that that is your intention as a result of the pose and facial features might be extra necessary and emphasised.

Black and white portraits are all about facial features and transmitting feelings. The eyes of the mannequin ought to all the time be the centre of consideration and dealing with the sunshine supply to create just a little sparkle of sunshine (referred to as catch lights), this makes the distinction. You may also create a second sparkle in case you use a light-weight reflector. You don’t essentially want an assistant to carry the reflector, you possibly can ask the mannequin to carry it or you’ll be able to maintain it your self with one hand.

Tips to Making Black and White Portraits

Studio portraits in black and white might be rather more artistic since you absolutely management the quantity of sunshine within the room. You can management the course and depth of that mild in the direction of your mannequin. Try to get artistic by solely lighting one a part of the face, through the use of objects or utilizing a black background to isolate your topic.


Black and white work isn’t solely desaturating a picture, it’s far more complicated. The work move I often use is I begin by modifying my picture in colour and enjoying round with the distinction of colours. I modify my publicity, the sharpness, do pores and skin work after which I do my first dodge and burn. Afterward, I convert my picture to black and white using the channel mixer and it’s fairly easy as a result of the totally different filters provides you with totally different outcomes.

The most essential a part of submit-processing is utilizing dodge and burn to provide life to your picture. Brighting and darkening up key areas of the picture is crucial step, take your time to do it properly. The outcome will depend upon you, so don’t hesitate to do it a number of occasions earlier than you’re utterly glad. I advocate using a Wacom Tablet for full management. Finish your publish-processing by making a vignette so as to add one other really feel of dimension.


Black and white portraits look superb when they’re carried out correctly. The outcome will depend upon how good you’ll be able to management and outline the sunshine round your topic. In different phrases, how outlined is your distinction between the totally different tones.

Always take into consideration black and white when the colours within the RAW picture don’t look good, when when your mannequin has a really robust facial features, and when you’ve good wanting mild whether or not it’s outdoor or indoors.

Please share your feedback and black and white portraits within the part under.

Tips to Making Black and White Portraits

The submit How to Create Good Black and White Portraits by Yacine Bessekhouad appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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