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Photography

100 Awe-Inspiring Black and White Images

This post is part of a series called Black and White Photography.
It's Not a Black and White World: How To Imagine Pictures in Monochrome
Creatively Converting Photos to Black and White With Lightroom

Black and white images are special. When you strip away the colour from something, you can get right to its soul. It doesn't matter whether it's a portrait, a landscape, a street scene or anything else, when it's reduced to textures, tones and lines, you see it in a different way. 

It's a sad truth that in the age of easy Instagram filters some people feel that converting an image to black and white is enough to make it "arty" and "cool". The best black and white images are carefully crafted; they aren't just desaturated versions of normal colour images. Creating a powerful black and white image is a skill unto itself!

In this article I've gathered 100 awesome black and white images. There are portraits, landscapes, street scenes and everything in between in the mix. The one thing they have in common is that they are all monochrome images. Around half of them were taken before 1950 by masters of the craft like Ansel Adams. The other half are more modern images, the majority taken with digital cameras.

Things to Consider

Rather than just scrolling through this collection going, "Oh, that's cool!", when you see an image you like, you should spend an hour slowly browsing through all the images considering them carefully. You should look at each image as an individual work of art but also consider how it relates to the other images in the collection. You might want to think about things like:

  • How has a particular style of photography (for example, portraiture) changed in the past 100 years? Take a photo from two photographers, maybe one from Ansel Adams and another from Rod Waddington; what are the similarities and differences between them?
  • Take your favourite image from the collection. Why do you think the photographer converted it to black and white? Was it driven by the film stock available such as in the case of the news images or was it a deliberate choice? 
  • As you look through, consider what would each image look like in colour? Would it be stronger or weaker? Why?
  • Some photographers have multiple images in the collection while others have only one. Without looking at the captions can you identify which photos come from the same photographers? What is it that gives it away? How are they creating a style even without colour?
  • What emotion does each image you feel? Is the black and white heightening that emotion or reducing it? Would you feel a different emotion if it was in colour?

There are plenty more things to consider with each image. Don't feel my list of ideas is exhaustive. Use it as a jumping off point. The only important thing is that you actively think as you view each image.

nurse
Catherine Natsuko Yamaguchi, Red Cross instructor, Manzanar Relocation Center, Cal. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
electrician
Yonehisa Yamagami, Electrician, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
policeman
Sam Bozono, Policeman. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
private
Private Margaret Fukuoka, W.A.C. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
portrait
Tom Kobayashi, Landscape, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
eldest daughter
Joyce Yuki Nakamura, Eldest Daughter. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
hogfarm
Hog farm, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
farmer with cabbages
Richard Kobayashi, Farmer with Cabbages, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
tractor
Benji Iguchi Driving Tractor, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
squash
Benji Iguchi with Squash, Manzanar Relocation Center. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
chicken farm
Chicken Farm, Mori Nakashima, Manzanar Relocation Center. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
farm
Farm and Farm Workers with Mt. Williamson in background, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
calisthenics
Calesthenics [sic]. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
volleyball
Vollyball, Manzanar Relocation Center, Calififornia. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
bridge
Bridge Game. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
football
Football. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
girl and volleyball
Girl and Volley Ball, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
baseball
Baseball Game, Manzanar Relocation Center, Calif. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions. 
native
Native Types of Africa. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
transport
Transportation. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
native
Native Types of Africa. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
headhunters
Head Hunters of the Upper Amazon in Brazil. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
priest sitting
Priest Sitting. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
aconcagua valley
Aconcagua Valley. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
thailand
Photographic Views of Thailand. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
boxers
A.A. MacLean, D. Deshler, M. Baldwin. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
barricade
Barricade Captured by Insurrectos. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
attack
The Attack on Juarez. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
home of girls
Home of Pupils on Mrs. Belmont's Farm for Girls. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
eva
Eva Morrison. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
archbishop
Archbishop I.R. Rodic of Belgrade. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
nelle
Nelle B. Stull. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
capt john
Capt. John Weller. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
andre
Andre Beaumont. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
col sharpe
Col. A.C. Sharpe. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
taft
Taft's Auto Leaving N.Y. Public Library. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
atwood
Atwood Rising. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
jim flynn
Jim Flynn. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
asleep
Asleep in Battery Park on Hot Day. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
cooling
Cooling His Head. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
sutton
Florence Sutton. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
beatty
Beatty. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
jerusalem
Jerusalem from the South. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
nurse
Nurse Aiko Hamaguchi, Mother Frances Yokoyama, Baby Fukomoto, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
warehouse
Warehouse. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
church
Catholic Church, Manzanar Relocation Center. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
dressmaking
Dressmaking Class, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
buying toys
Mrs. Yaeko Nakamura and Family Buying Toys with Fred Moriguchi, Manzanar Relocation Center. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
reading paper
Roy Takeno Reading Paper in Front of Office. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
guard view
Manzanar from Guard Tower. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
naguchi
Mrs. Naguchi and Two Children. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
weeki
Weeki Wachee Spring, Florida, 1947. Image by Toni Frissell. [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
victoria station
Victoria Station, London, 1951. Image by Toni Frissell. [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
jackie kennedy
Jackie Kennedy, 1957. Image by Toni Frissell. [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
airmen
Members of the Tuskegee Airmen 332nd Fighter Group attending a briefing in Ramitelli, Italy, 1945. Image by Toni Frissell. [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
moor
Rannoch Moor. Image by [Chris Combe](https://www.flickr.com/photos/cosmicherb70/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
Old pier
Old Pier. Image by [Vitor Pina](https://www.flickr.com/photos/77136928@N04/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
barn
Burford Barn. Image by [Richard Walker](https://www.flickr.com/photos/richardwalkerphotography/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
dappled
Dappled. Image by [Adam Meek](https://www.flickr.com/photos/adammeek/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
crossroads
Crossroads. Image by [Adam Meek](https://www.flickr.com/photos/adammeek/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
straylight
Straylight. Image by [Adam Meek](https://www.flickr.com/photos/adammeek/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
chilly
Chilly Days. Image by [Adam Meek](https://www.flickr.com/photos/adammeek/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
bike
A Moment of Reflection. Image by [Adam Meek](https://www.flickr.com/photos/adammeek/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
sunset
Sunset. Image by [Andreas Øverland](https://www.flickr.com/photos/andreasoverland/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
mirror
The Mirror. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
sonia
Sonia. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
azur
Azur. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
lake
Lake. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
lac de souston
Lac de Souston. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
deer bridge
Deer Bridge. Image by [Rennett Stowe](https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsaint/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
halfdome
Half Dome. Image by [Charlie Nguyen](https://www.flickr.com/photos/brainchildvn/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
yosemite
Yosemite. Image by [Tom Hilton](https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomhilton/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
glasgow
Glasgow, Scotland. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
pearse
Pearse Station, Dublin, Ireland. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
triangles
Triangles. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
baby
The Baby, Venice, Italy. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
the path
The Path, Dublin, Ireland. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
stairs
Stairs, Lisbon, Portugal. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
the priest
The Priest. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
girl
The Girl. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
dancing
Dancing in the Water. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
walking man
The Walking Man. Image by [Emilien Etienne](https://www.flickr.com/photos/emilienetiennephotography/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
the look
The Look. Image by [Vinoth Chandar](https://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
chipmunk goddess
Chipmunk Goddess. Image by [Brian Tomlinson](https://www.flickr.com/photos/brian_tomlinson/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
j
J. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
grandma
Kamatchi, My Grandma. Image by [Vinoth Chandar](https://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
shadow puppetteer
The Shadow Puppeteer. Image by [Sukano Debnath](https://www.flickr.com/photos/sukanto_debnath/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
destruction
Destruction. Image by [M Yashna](https://www.flickr.com/photos/yashna13/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
street
Street, Addis, Ethiopia. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
window boy
Window Boy. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
midstream
Midstream, Omo River, Ethiopia. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
twilight
Twilight (at Home), Mekele, Ethiopia. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
shady
Shady, Turmi, Ethiopia. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
street
Street, Sana'a, Yemen. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
mursi
Mursi Boy, Omo, Ethiopia. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
warriors
Warriors, Mursi Tribe, Ethiopia. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
warrior
Warrior, Mursi Tribe, Ethiopia. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
warrior
Warrior, Karo Tribe, Ethiopia. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
orphaned elephants
Orphaned Elephants, Kenya. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).
ceremony
Ceremony, Hamer Tribe, Ethiopia. Image by [Rod Waddington](https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/). [CC BY-SA 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).

Wrapping Up

100 images is a huge number. If you've made it to this point, you're probably slightly overwhelmed by what you've just viewed. Hopefully, you're also inspired. It's a fairly eclectic mix of images so whatever style of photography you prefer there should have been something for you.

Black and white photography is a wonderful area of photography to explore. Rather than dying out with the rise of colour film, it's an even more vibrant and interesting area of the art form than ever before. We'd love to see the black and white shots you're most proud of. Please post them in the comments below.

I hope you've enjoyed browsing through our collection of images. Leave a link in the comments below to your own black and white shots, and feel free to tell us which of the photos above is your favourite!

Also, if you need high quality Photoshop Photo Effects or Photoshop Actions, then choose from the collection of creative options available for purchase on GraphicRiver. Get stared with Pro Photoshop Actions Bundle or the Premium PS Actions Set. Both include advanced B&W conversion actions, as well as an assortment of additional options to work with. 




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