Black and white photography has the ability to make even an ordinary image seem like a beautiful work of art. Since we are accustomed to viewing color photos on a daily basis, black and white images often come across as much more sophisticated and elegant. This makes them very popular for portrait shots, as well as wedding photography and landscape photography.
Before you can begin taking black and white photos, you'll need to decide what method you plan to use to capture your images. If you are using a film camera, you can use black and white film. If you are using a digital camera, many models allow you to shoot images in grayscale. If not, you can use image editing software to convert your color photos into black and white.
Contrast is a key element in successful black and white photography. The best photos have strong contrast between the foreground and the surrounding environment. Since it takes practice to learn to block the distraction of colors and see how contrast and tone will affect the final image, the best way to master this type of photography is to simply take as many shots as possible.
Since you can't rely on different colors to add interest to your shot, look for textures that will photograph well. Satin fabric can be a lovely backdrop for a photo of a newborn baby and his mother. The side of a weathered barn sets the scene for a masculine portrait of a father and his sons. Don't ask your photo subject to wear patterned clothing, however. Busy prints are often distracting in black and white portraits.
Lighting is an important component of successful photography regardless of whether your pictures will be in color or black and white. However, when you remove the color in an image, the viewer's eyes become very sensitive to the intensity of light within the photo. To reduce harsh shadows, it's best to shoot outdoors in natural light either late in the evening or early in the morning. Overcast days also work well for black and white photography, even though taking color pictures under the same conditions will usually result in substandard images.
Although black and white photography is beautiful on its own, adding spot color can lend an interesting look to your images. Spot color can be added using Adobe Photoshop® or other image editing software. You can also hand color black and white prints using special markers found at your local craft store.