5 Tips To Create Impactful Black & White Portraits


5 Tips To Create Impactful Black & White Portraits with Karen Bagley

Black & white portraits are absolutely classic. Many times, you can have a standard beautiful image but when you make it black & white… it comes to LIFE! As you may know, not just any image will work well as a black & white image. So, how do you go about creating black & white images that will leave your clientele breathless? I have composed five tips to help you create the most impactful black & white images. Let’s dig in!

Tip 1: Location matters

Think of your location. Your backdrop plays a huge part in the impact of your image when shooting specifically with black & white in mind. In many cases, the more simplistic the background, the better it will be in black & white. For example, in studio on a solid color backdrop.

Of course, this is not always the case. There will forever and always be exceptions to the “rules.” The best way to gauge this for yourself is to plan ahead. Know your location well and know where exactly you want to create a black & white image. Certain places only make sense in color, like a garden with blooming flowers. The entire purpose of gardens or any heavily landscaped area is the color that these locations carry, so shooting black & white can actually take away from those images. However, maybe in this garden there is a covered bridge that would be a perfect setting for your black & white image. Any structure—a building, a wall, maybe even a fence, really anything that has lines leading to your subject—would be a PERFECT setting for your black & white image. So train your eyes to look for spots like that.

Tip 2: Settings.

Your camera settings are equally as important as your location. You also have to decide between shooting black & white straight in camera OR turning your image to black & white later. My personal preference for impactful is to turn my image black & white later, but I have done it both ways. Even though I initially shoot in color, I still have thought in depth of what black & white image I want to create. The settings you choose will determine the type of black & white image you create. Of course, shooting in RAW is always the best way to shoot and it allows more play room in post-production. With the technology today, you can do just about anything in post, but I am a believer in getting it as close to what you want IN CAMERA.


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