10 Steps to Creating Stronger Black and White Photos

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Even though color photography dominates nearly every gene of photography, strong black and white photos have a timeless and emotive quality that can be hard to replicate with color.

When color is removed from an image, it is easier to focus on the subject of your photo and can be an especially powerful when it comes to portraits.

Removing color can also remove the distraction of a busy background and can make an image easier on the eye that has colors that don’t quite go together.

Black and white images also instantly give most images a documentary or photojournalist feel.  By using black and white for an image rather than color, it is also easier to create a timeless image that stays away from trendy editing techniques like “light and airy” or “dark or moody” that while beautiful today, may appear dated a decade or more from now.

Creating a strong black and white image, however, is not as simple as just removing the color.

Here are some techniques to use to ensure you have a great black and white image that will stand the test of time.

Make sure you have strong blacks and strong whites.

Look at some black and white images carefully and you will find that many are really variations of gray than black and white.  In order for a black and white image to be strong, it has to have some true blacks and true whites.

There are various ways to do this, but one of the easiest is to simply drag the blacks slider in Lightroom to the left to deepen the blacks and move the whites slider to the right to brighten the whites.  Be careful that you do not clip the blacks or whites in any essential parts of the photo, such as the eyes or skin, but clipping in non-essential parts of a photo is generally considered acceptable

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