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100 Awe-Inspiring Black and White Images

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Read Time:8 minsLanguages:
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.

nursenursenurse
Catherine Natsuko Yamaguchi, Red Cross instructor, Manzanar Relocation Center, Cal. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
electricianelectricianelectrician
Yonehisa Yamagami, Electrician, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
policemanpolicemanpoliceman
Sam Bozono, Policeman. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
privateprivateprivate
Private Margaret Fukuoka, W.A.C. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
portraitportraitportrait
Tom Kobayashi, Landscape, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
eldest daughtereldest daughtereldest daughter
Joyce Yuki Nakamura, Eldest Daughter. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
hogfarmhogfarmhogfarm
Hog farm, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
farmer with cabbagesfarmer with cabbagesfarmer with cabbages
Richard Kobayashi, Farmer with Cabbages, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
tractortractortractor
Benji Iguchi Driving Tractor, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
squashsquashsquash
Benji Iguchi with Squash, Manzanar Relocation Center. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
chicken farmchicken farmchicken farm
Chicken Farm, Mori Nakashima, Manzanar Relocation Center. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
farmfarmfarm
Farm and Farm Workers with Mt. Williamson in background, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
calisthenicscalisthenicscalisthenics
Calesthenics [sic]. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
volleyballvolleyballvolleyball
Vollyball, Manzanar Relocation Center, Calififornia. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
bridgebridgebridge
Bridge Game. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
footballfootballfootball
Football. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
girl and volleyballgirl and volleyballgirl and volleyball
Girl and Volley Ball, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
baseballbaseballbaseball
Baseball Game, Manzanar Relocation Center, Calif. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions. 
nativenativenative
Native Types of Africa. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
transporttransporttransport
Transportation. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
nativenativenative
Native Types of Africa. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
headhuntersheadhuntersheadhunters
Head Hunters of the Upper Amazon in Brazil. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
priest sittingpriest sittingpriest sitting
Priest Sitting. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
aconcagua valleyaconcagua valleyaconcagua valley
Aconcagua Valley. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
thailandthailandthailand
Photographic Views of Thailand. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
boxersboxersboxers
A.A. MacLean, D. Deshler, M. Baldwin. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
barricadebarricadebarricade
Barricade Captured by Insurrectos. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
attackattackattack
The Attack on Juarez. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
home of girlshome of girlshome of girls
Home of Pupils on Mrs. Belmont's Farm for Girls. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
evaevaeva
Eva Morrison. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
archbishoparchbishoparchbishop
Archbishop I.R. Rodic of Belgrade. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
nellenellenelle
Nelle B. Stull. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
capt johncapt johncapt john
Capt. John Weller. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
andreandreandre
Andre Beaumont. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
col sharpecol sharpecol sharpe
Col. A.C. Sharpe. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
tafttafttaft
Taft's Auto Leaving N.Y. Public Library. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
atwoodatwoodatwood
Atwood Rising. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
jim flynnjim flynnjim flynn
Jim Flynn. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
asleepasleepasleep
Asleep in Battery Park on Hot Day. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
coolingcoolingcooling
Cooling His Head. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
suttonsuttonsutton
Florence Sutton. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
beattybeattybeatty
Beatty. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
jerusalemjerusalemjerusalem
Jerusalem from the South. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
nursenursenurse
Nurse Aiko Hamaguchi, Mother Frances Yokoyama, Baby Fukomoto, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
warehousewarehousewarehouse
Warehouse. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
churchchurchchurch
Catholic Church, Manzanar Relocation Center. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
dressmakingdressmakingdressmaking
Dressmaking Class, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
buying toysbuying toysbuying 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 paperreading paperreading paper
Roy Takeno Reading Paper in Front of Office. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
guard viewguard viewguard view
Manzanar from Guard Tower. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
naguchinaguchinaguchi
Mrs. Naguchi and Two Children. Image by Ansel Adams. Public Domain/No Known Copyright Restrictions.
weekiweekiweeki
Weeki Wachee Spring, Florida, 1947. Image by Toni Frissell. [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
victoria stationvictoria stationvictoria station
Victoria Station, London, 1951. Image by Toni Frissell. [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
jackie kennedyjackie kennedyjackie kennedy
Jackie Kennedy, 1957. Image by Toni Frissell. [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
airmenairmenairmen
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/).
moormoormoor
Rannoch Moor. Image by [Chris Combe](https://www.flickr.com/photos/cosmicherb70/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
Old pierOld pierOld 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/).
barnbarnbarn
Burford Barn. Image by [Richard Walker](https://www.flickr.com/photos/richardwalkerphotography/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
dappleddappleddappled
Dappled. Image by [Adam Meek](https://www.flickr.com/photos/adammeek/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
crossroadscrossroadscrossroads
Crossroads. Image by [Adam Meek](https://www.flickr.com/photos/adammeek/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
straylightstraylightstraylight
Straylight. Image by [Adam Meek](https://www.flickr.com/photos/adammeek/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
chillychillychilly
Chilly Days. Image by [Adam Meek](https://www.flickr.com/photos/adammeek/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
bikebikebike
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/).
sunsetsunsetsunset
Sunset. Image by [Andreas Øverland](https://www.flickr.com/photos/andreasoverland/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
mirrormirrormirror
The Mirror. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
soniasoniasonia
Sonia. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
azurazurazur
Azur. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
lakelakelake
Lake. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
lac de soustonlac de soustonlac 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 bridgedeer bridgedeer bridge
Deer Bridge. Image by [Rennett Stowe](https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsaint/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
halfdomehalfdomehalfdome
Half Dome. Image by [Charlie Nguyen](https://www.flickr.com/photos/brainchildvn/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
yosemiteyosemiteyosemite
Yosemite. Image by [Tom Hilton](https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomhilton/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
glasgowglasgowglasgow
Glasgow, Scotland. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
pearsepearsepearse
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/).
trianglestrianglestriangles
Triangles. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
babybabybaby
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 paththe paththe 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/).
stairsstairsstairs
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 priestthe priestthe priest
The Priest. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
girlgirlgirl
The Girl. Image by [Giuseppe Milo](https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
dancingdancingdancing
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 manwalking manwalking 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 lookthe lookthe 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 goddesschipmunk goddesschipmunk 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/).
jjj
J. Image by [Stephane](https://www.flickr.com/photos/stf-o/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
grandmagrandmagrandma
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 puppetteershadow puppetteershadow 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/).
destructiondestructiondestruction
Destruction. Image by [M Yashna](https://www.flickr.com/photos/yashna13/). [CC BY 2.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
streetstreetstreet
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 boywindow boywindow 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/).
midstreammidstreammidstream
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/).
twilighttwilighttwilight
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/).
shadyshadyshady
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/).
streetstreetstreet
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/).
mursimursimursi
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/).
warriorswarriorswarriors
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/).
warriorwarriorwarrior
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/).
warriorwarriorwarrior
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 elephantsorphaned elephantsorphaned 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/).
ceremonyceremonyceremony
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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