Black and White Photography

The earliest camera technologies produced black and white photos. Black and white photography was the only option for a long time. The first colored photograph was taken in 1861. But colored cameras came into commercial production by the beginning of the 20th century only. The photography industry transformed with the introduction of colored camera film. Since then, there have been tremendous advancements in camera technologies. Today, we use 4k HD cameras with realistic color details. But the trend is shifting again. Black and white photography is back in fashion, and it is an art in itself.  

Understanding the Art

Colour photography is a newer technology than monochrome photography. But it does not mean that old technology is useless. Colour photography enhances the liveliness of an image. However, it draws excessive focus on the color and reduces the seriousness of an image. That's where the art of black and white photography comes into action. We can use black and white photography to emphasize the meaning of the image and reduce the distraction caused by colors. It directs the attention of an observer towards the subject of an image. It makes him understand the essence of the photo. Photographers use this phenomenon to express the message to people through an image. They use the beauty of black and white images to introduce a new perspective in the observer's mind. Colorless is not always boring. Black and white photography is an example of that.

Black & White vs. monochrome

You may have seen people using these terms interchangeably. People often call colorless photos monochrome. But there is a slight misunderstanding here.Monochrome is made of words ‘mono'- single and ‘chrome'- color. Monochrome pictures have shades of a single color. This can be any color. Sepia, cyan and brown hues also come under monochrome. Black and white photos have shades of only the grey color.  The right term for black and white photos is Grayscale. Grayscale refers to photos of grey shades, which are black and white photos.

Capturing black and white images or editing colored images?

This is a common confusion among photographers. They have one option to capture pictures directly in black and white. DSLRs and point and shoot cameras have grayscale modes inbuilt, which allows them to do so. There are also black and white cameras available today. These photography cameras capture only grayscale images. The other option is to capture colored images and edit them into grayscale in an image processing software. We recommend taking the editing method. The reason is simply that if you change your mind later, you will not regret taking the photo in black and white. You will have both the options ready. Also, editing software lets you control the black and white contrast in the image. Editing produces better results than capturing black and white images.

Tips for mastering black and white photography

  • Know when to capture black and white images- Choice of capturing black and white images depends on the situation and tensions present in the scene. For instance, black and white effects can be incorporated successfully in wedding photography. But you cannot deliver black and white images in Jewellery photography and fashion photography. You can use black and white concepts in fields where color details are not necessary.
  • Contrast is your friend- Best Black and white images are created when there is a contrast between dark and bright colors in the scene. This contrast forms deep black and bright white colors, which gives a pleasantly attractive look to images.
  • Photography lighting- Artificial lights often lose their appeal in black and white photography. One should use artificial lights only to create mild contrasts in indoor conditions. Black and white photography looks amazing in natural lighting. Black and white effects, for instance, amazes in aerial photography.
  • Learn from professional works – Go to photography websites and photography blogs and observe their black and white samples. Observing and understanding are one of the best ways of learning. Watch black and white videos for more detailed knowledge about contrasts.
  • Use capable software – For editing a colored image into a black-and-white image, use software that does not affect the quality of an image. You should have full controls of the grayscale amount in the photo. Experiment with different levels of brightness. Use other tools such as the “dodge and burn” for enhancing the details of dark areas.


Black and white photography takes time to master. A photographer needs to view the world in grayscale to identify perfect opportunities for capturing a masterpiece.

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