Black and white street photography is a challenging type of photography. Photographers need to be very quick to capture a shot, or else that moment will be lost forever. It can be even harder especially if you are new to black and white street photography. So to help you out, we’ve listed the most important tips on how to take amazing black and white street photos.
Always shoot in RAW.
Since you don’t have enough time to capture a street scene in black and white, always make sure that you shoot it in RAW first. RAW images capture all data and can be edited later on⎯meaning that you have the ability to turn it into black and white monochrome after shooting the photo. You can then edit the monochrome image using photo editing software to make some adjustments to it and make it look even better.
One thing that is almost always better with black and white photos is the ability to enhance contrast. To create a truly amazing black and white photos, the subject of your shot should always be the part with the greatest contrast. Enhance the contrast of your photo accordingly. Identify which part of the photo needs to be darker or brighter to get impressive results.
Shoot using a small aperture.
You need to shoot using a small aperture. It’s wise to grab a camera that has a small aperture in order to get better pictures. This will allow you to control the depth of field of your subject and keep them in focus⎯highlighting the black and white components and allowing for movement to be captured more effectively.
Select a fast shutter speed.
A small aperture needs to go with a fast shutter speed to get the best results. Faster shutter speeds will allow you to capture fast-moving subjects on the street. This also helps in stabilizing your shots. Try setting the shutter speed of your camera to at least 1/250 for fast moving objects.
Change your ISO setting to high.
Since you’ll be shooting with a small aperture and fast shutter speed, you must also set your ISO to high. Setting your ISO setting high will make your camera to absorb more light. This is really important⎯especially if you are shooting in low-light conditions. You don’t want your photos to be looking dark.
Use clarity in your photos appropriately.
Learning how to use the clarity slider properly for your black and white photos can make a big difference as to whether they will look good or not. This is especially true with black and white street photos. It is common for street photos to have fast-moving subjects and, as a result, the image’s subject may not be focused properly. Using the clarity slider in software like Lightroom however, can change that. You can adjust the sharpness of your black and white street photos, especially the ones that are poorly focused.
Follow a particular workflow during post-production.
The post-production of your shots should follow a structured and well-organized workflow to help produce an amazing black and white photo. Start the post-production process by adjusting the white balance, and then proceed on to the next step until you get the result that you are looking for.
Know how to crop images correctly.
Cropping is an important part of the post-production of your shots. It is a very good tool to use⎯especially if you know how to use it properly. When you crop your black and white shots, don’t just crop them without a good reason. Think hard as to why you don’t want a particular part of the shot to be seen.
Capture the Emotion as Well
Black and white photos are known for all kinds of emotions that they can evoke. The same can also be said for street photography. When you are on the street taking shots, it’s best if you can focus on the emotions of the scene to produce amazing and evocative shots.
Learn from the experts.
Since you are still a beginner, you might as well learn from the experts by looking at some of their work. They say “the best way to learn, is to learn from the experts”, right? So why don’t you do it too. Find and study the work of the expert black and white street photographers out there. Figure out how they capture their images and learn how to incorporate their tricks and practices into your shots as well.
Black and white street photos⎯just like the professional headshots in Chicago⎯will forever be one of photography’s greatest products. A properly taken street photo can be enhanced by using black and white instead of multiple colors. However, a sloppily or incorrectly taken street photo can ruin what could have been an amazing shot. This is why these tips are important to consider before you attempt your next black and white street photo.
Michael Schacht is a portrait photographer and photography educator based in Chicago Illinois. As owner/operator of 312 Elements Headshot Photography located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, Michael oversees the day to day operations and has had the opportunity to photograph thousands of corporate professionals over the last decade. Through his direction, attention to detail, and people skills, he’s helped these clients to craft a narrative around their personal brand. It’s his belief that the headshot is the modern dad business card and that a better headshot is essential for a better career. Michael, his wife Meghan and his two daughters reside in Tinley Park Illinois where he is a community leader and active participant in the local business sector. Michael studied business at Ball State University and photography with world renown headshot photographer, Peter Hurley. It was Hurley that trained Michael in the art of human expression. Michael is now a Headshot Crew certified Mentor and active member of the Headshot Crew community where he was named one of the top 20 headshot photographers in the world.