Converting your portraits to black and white allows the viewer to focus more on the light, composition, texture, and emotion in the photos. However, there are some things to have in mind while shooting if you want your portrait series to be black and white. In this video, Ian Hippolyte reminds you to be intentional and shares five simple tips to make your portraits more striking.
Contrast is key: when you convert a photo to black and white, sometimes you’ll get unpleasantly surprised by how dull it looks. To avoid this, create high contrast in your photos while you take them. You can do it with light and shadows, or by placing a dark object against a light background and vice versa.
Black and white styling: when shooting for black and white, have your model wear one of these two colors. This way, when you convert the image, you’ll still keep the contrast and have the clothes stand out against the background. Pay attention to the model’s skin tone as well.
Shoot raw: if you ask me, this goes without saying for most shooting situations. Raw files have a higher dynamic range, allowing you more control over the contrast of your images.
Play with color: newbies among you may be confused, but yes, you get to play with colors when editing black and white photos too. You get to darken and lighten specific colors, controlling how bright they will appear in your final image. This affects the contrast and the relationship between the subject and the background, so make sure to play with these settings.
Split toning: last but not least, you can add a bit of a tint to your photos using split toning. You can make them warmer or colder, depending on the mood you’re going for. You can do this in Lightroom and Capture One, or by using Gradient Map in Photoshop (which is the method I usually use).
Do you have any tips for black and white portraits you’d like to share? Feel free to drop them in the comments.