How to make a stunning bnw portrait

To make a good portrait in black and white you need to think in black and white, that means giving the highest priority to some aspects than others that in color photography are rather basic. Then the black and white also has advantages such as undo color casts that may be present in the photographs taken indoors. Finally we are dealing with a specific black and white category, the Portrait, which in turn has rules and codes. We see specifically how to proceed:


  1. Light: no flash, if you find yourself indoors stay next to a light source, a window with a white curtain would be perfect, the important thing is that the light is diffused and soft, you can shield the light source with a light scarf, a napkin. If you are in external applies the concept of avoiding direct and strong lights like the midday sun in favor of heaven shielded by clouds, a white wall bounce, a white umbrella under which to stay.
  2. Clothing: think in black and white, imagine how it will be photography to avoid a mixture of unpleasant dirty gray. The trick is to wear at least one point of white and/ or black.
  3. The background: it is important to isolate the main character from the background and, considering the background as a fundamental element. If you find yourself in the middle of a room full of objects that distract you can open the diaphragm  so as to eliminate confusion, but if the setting has a direct connection with the main character you can glimpse or even use. I personally prefer the classic portrait in which the subject is the protagonist without other elements, so you enter into a pictorial and interior dimension.
  4. Light background and dark background are two different possibilities with different flavors, it can be a wall, the sky, a wall of your house, if you use the dark background and black, will give more emotional and deeper drama, if you use a light background will give greater emphasize the portrait itself.
  5. Cutting and composition: are essential, apply the rules of thirds, diagonals and golden section, and cutting it is important to think about whether you want a close-up or enlarge the frame. Council to study the face that we want to portray different angles and thinking about the cut three-quarters, that ‘s always very nice, entering when possible the hands of the character.
  6. Lens: a macro lens for portraits, lens for portrait in general and ‘essential that no deformed, these are basis classic rules.
  7. The emotion: I left for last because this aspect is the most complex and the most important. For emotions and emotional aspect what  I mean is that your subject, is the emotion that shines through from the portrait and your emotions. And ‘necessary to establish a climate of trust, take a deep breath, be very careful and involved and at the same time sufficiently detached to ask the protagonist to show a part of himself normally would not show. We have to have patience and seek that spark often hidden under many masks, but when you find it, you recognize it and capture!

Surely by now you will make beautiful portraits bnw!


Hi, I’m Manuela, urban potter and Italian artist who’s passionate about exploring the expressive potential of clay. With a love for Wabi Sabi aesthetics and the beauty of imperfection, I create bespoke ceramics, paintings, and fine art photography. My studio, nestled in the charming city of Milan, is a magical box where creativity runs wild and beauty is abundant. Whether you’re looking to bring a touch of magic into your everyday life, or simply to explore your creative side through art therapy I’m here to inspire and encourage you on your journey. I bring art into the world and celebrate the beauty in every moment. This blog is my Artistic Salad, filled with creativity, beauty, joie de vivre, passion and tools for creative minds.

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