6 Tips For Dramatic Black and White Photography

6 Tips For Dramatic Black and White Photography

Want your images to have a timeless or dramatic look? Try black and white photography! Although color photography has ruled the scene since the 1960s, black and white photos can add a new element to your photos. Here are some tips to keep in mind when shooting for black and white:

Contrast is your BFF.

In black and white photography, you’re (obviously) only working with two major colors plus the shades in between. So, you’ll want to always emphasize the contrast – think of how a bright sky will look when paired with a dark object.

Search for patterns.

Again, since you’re working with a limited color palette, you have to search for the things that will make your photo interesting – like patterns! Sometimes patterns in color can look busy or lost, but that’s not the case for black and white. Any repeated object or design can really pop!

Play around with light & exposure.

If you’re feeling stuck, a good place to start is by looking at the light. How does the sun shine between buildings? How is the light affecting the shadows around you? Unlike many other forms of photography, broad daylight can actually be helpful in this area as that harsh light brings out the shadows!

Play with your camera settings – start with a super low ISO, a really fast shutter speed, and a wide open aperture. Over- or underexposing can really add some drama to your black and white photos.

Keep it “clean.”

A good trick before you snap your shot is to search for “clean” whites and “clean” blacks in your photo. What elements of the photo are starkly white and deeply black? Having these keeps your photos from looking muted, and instead enhances the textures and shades of the rest of the photograph.

Grab your filters!

Experiment with the different filters in your camera bag. A polarizing filter can boost contrast, an ND grad filter will retain any detail in a bright sky, and some color filters can be used to manipulate contrast in certain ways. For example, an orange filter makes a blue sky look darker!

Put it in post.

Now that you have your RAW images, tweak them in post-production software (whether it’s Lightroom, VSCO, Snapseed, or whatever)! Try increasing your sharpening and clarity then move your saturation down but your contrast up.

From there, you can individually move the sliders for highlights, shadows, blacks, and whites until your image is edited just the way you like it!

Do you shoot or edit in black and white? Tell us your tips in the comments! And, here’s a printing tip: dramatic black and white images look exceptional when printed on our Metal Prints.


  1. With digital, I always have better success shooting color RAW, editing the image completely, transforming it to black and white, and then tweaking it. I use Lightroom for the editing, and I sometimes use Luminar as a plug-in for final touches.

    With film, I always use a black and white product, usually a 400 speed.


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