lady with flower crown

When black & white portraits work best

Once you have taken a shot you are happy with there are many post-production techniques that can enhance your image even further. Shooting in or converting to black and white (or monochrome) is a popular technique amongst portrait photographers. Let's look at why that is.

Here are two examples of a portrait taken in colour and then converted to black and white afterwards. Which do you think works better in black and white?

In this first example, the conversion into black & white brings out the finer details in the flowers, making them the core focus of the photo. However, this conversion means that the vibrant yellow background and colour match between the flowers and clothing is lost.

In the second example the black & white version allows the women’s facial features to contrast starkly against the busy details of the flowers – giving the eye a focus which is harder to obtain in the coloured photo.

Black and white images generally work well for portraits; the often-cited reason is that the absence of colour reduces distraction and focuses the attention on the subject. However colour can also bring life and interest to a portrait. Shooting or converting to black and white is a personal choice. If you are new to black and white photography, a great way to start is to shoot in colour and convert some of your favourite images. Learn what works best for you and your style of photography.