Beautiful Black and White Photography

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If you’ve been following Smashing Magazine for a while, you know that almost all posts from the Monday Inspiration series1 are pretty colorful and eye-catching. This post is an exception. Compared to colorful designs where catchy colors help the design to stand out, in black-and-white designs the ability to stand out depends only on its ability to communicate rather than on its appealing visual presentation.

Indeed, beautiful black and white photography doesn’t attract with its play of colors. Here close attention to composition, lighting, perspective and the context it is shot in are important. Hence, before considering the photos presented below please prepare some patience and time. This post presents some truly excellent examples of beautiful black-and-white photography.

Notice: this post isn’t supposed to showcase the best black-and-white-photos of world’s best photographers; please see it as a modest attempt to inspire designers for experimenting with black and white instead of using a variety of vibrant colors all the time. Hopefully, everybody will find something interesting and unusual for herself or himself.

You may want to take a look at our related posts

All photos belong to the respective owners.

Beautiful Black-And-White-Photography

Toni Frissell5
In her legendary photos Toni Frissell impresses with a strong trend toward surrealism or realism. The photo presented below, although in black and white, is both extremely sharp and clear. To achieve such level of clarity in black and white is extremely hard.

Black and White Photography6

Alin Ciortea7
Alin Ciortea presents examples of modern street photography. In black and white, of course.

Black and White Photography8

Black and White Photography9

Birds10
Unfortunately, the photographer is unknown. The photo seems to be taken at exact the right moment from exactly the right angle with a perfect lighting. Black and white can be powerful as well.

Black and White Photography11

Sally Mann12
This photo, titled Candy Cigarette, not just displays something, it tells a story. It is both emotional and beautiful. This is what the originality of black-and-white-photography is all about.

Black and White Photography13

Larry Towell14
This shot was taken in El Salvador. Child with star mask during “Day Of The Dead”. Other child in background rolls tire for repair in garage where he works at an adult’s job. The photo is full of tiredness and stubbornness. Simple motif conveying strong emotions.

Black and White Photography15

Aneta Kowalczyk16
Aneta Kowalczyk specializes in portrait photography. Some of her photos are provoking, some are strange and some are extremely beautiful. The example below displays the beautiful side of black and white photography.

Black and White Photography17

Nick Brandt18
Nick Brandt is a renown animal photographer which has become famous with his book of photographs, “On This Earth”, which was published in October 2005.

Black and White Photography19

Gary Winogrand20
Taking a shot just at the right moment.

Black and White Photography21

Larry Louie22
Woman Of Tibet. Realism at its best. Awarded with International Photography Awards in 2007.

Black and White Photography23

Gabriele Caretti24
Tour Eiffel: extraordinary contrast and perspective. Strong, clean and very precise shot.

Black and White Photography25

Ghost Town Charm26
Excellent lighting.

Black and White Photography27

Ansel Adams28
One of the most famous contemporary black and white photographers. Classic!

Black and White Photography29

Maurizio Polese30
Polese’s works pay close attention to small, tiny details. The tones are perfects and compositions are beautiful which is why the photos are presented in this post. Notice the sharp contrast and the lighting at the first image below and the sharp pathway leading to the light in the second one.

Black and White Photography31

Black and White Photography32

Top 10 Wired.com Reader Black-and-White Photos33
Ten extraordinary black and white photographs sent to the Wired.com editorial by its readers.

Black and White Photography34

Black and White Photography35

Black and White Photography36

Michele Clement37
Artistic yet beautiful and extremely powerful shot. Michele Clement is the winner of Black & White Spider Awards 2007 in category “Outstanding Achievement”.

Black and White Photography38

Snyder Alison39
This photo has been taken in South Crillon Glacier, Washburn.

Black and White Photography40

Abbas41
Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami on the hills surrounding the captital, where his film “Taste of Cherry”, which was co-awarded the Golden Palm in Cannes 1997, was shot.

Black and White Photography42

Patrick Figaj43
Ceremony.

Black and White Photography44

Jack Radcliffe45
Alison’s life in black and white photos. The significance of these pictures emerges in retrospect. “When my daughter Alison was born, in the tradition of a new parent, I began to photograph her, initially in a separate and private body of work. However, in the process of documenting Alison’s growth, I developed a passionate interest in human relationships and capturing intimate moments in the lives of family and friends.”

Black and White Photography46

Black and White Photography47

Arndt Laude48
Alignment. Sometiems all it takes is to be at the right place in the right moment and take a shot under the right angle. That’s what happened here.

Black and White Photography49

Ralph Gibson50
Staircase is an example of Gibson’s high-contrast, minimalist black and white compositions have influenced a generation of photographers. By isolating the essential elements of a scene, his pictures show a style that is unique and immediately recognizable. [via51]

Black and White Photography52

Elliott Erwitt53
Erwitt, an advertising and journalistic photographer known for his black and white candid shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings — the master of the “indecisive moment”.

Black and White Photography54

Black and White Photography55

Roy Mckeown56
Snowy Sheep.

Black and White Photography57

Adam Hinton58

Black and White Photography59

Van Shnooken Raggen60
Two Warehouses.

Black and White Photography61

Rodney Smith62
Rodney Smith has his own understanding of professional black-and-white-photography. Unusual, abstract and surrealistic works.

Black and White Photography63

Drole Deciel64
Smiley.

Black and White Photography65

Shazeen Samad66
Simple yet excellent composition. This photo manages not just to show something, but to capture a moment of life in all its beauty and vividness.

Black and White Photography67

Scott Bush68
Berk-plage – France. What a sky! A really strange squadron: octopussy, teddy bear and skates.

Black and White Photography69

Pedro Meyer70
Pedro Meyer shows the life of people across the globe. This photo was taken in Rio De Janeiro.

Black and White Photography71

Black and White Photography72

Mitch Dobrowner73
Mitch Dobrowner is famous due to his Earth photos.

Black and White Photography74

Black and White Photography75

Black and White Photography76

Black and White Photography77

Robertino Nikolic78
lighting plays with geometry. Or geometry plays with lighting? The winner of the Black & White Spider Awards 2007.

Black and White Photography79

Unknown80
Capturing the right moment at the right point of time.

Black and White Photography81

Bert (Quasebart)82
Perfect timing, perfect lighting. A dreamy shot.

Black and White Photography83

Hughes Leglise-Bataille84
That’s a quite unusual perspective for a photograph.

Black and White Photography85

Santosh Korthiwada86
“No peeping please!” Very powerful, emotional and somehow sad photo.

Black and White Photography87

Rui Palha88
Rui Palha photographs simple people in simple situations. Result: extraordinary photos of simple things surrounding our life.

Black and White Photography89

Black and White Photography90

Black and White Photography91

Watanabe92
Straws.

Black and White Photography93

Lauren94
Two Tree Hill. The composition looks very surreal, yet powerful and beautiful.

Black and White Photography95

G. Diaz Deleon96
Ventana XIV. Geometric minimalism at its best.

Black and White Photography97

Maurizio Polese98
Escape. Unusual angle, unusual perspective.

Black and White Photography99

Jana Stolzer100
Nameless.

Black and White Photography101

Vega Omer102
Struggling to survive.

Black and White Photography103

Ezra Caldwell104
Dog snout. Sometimes the moments from our life are the most valuable moments we should enjoy and keep in mind.

Black and White Photography105

Last Click

Crossing Lines106

Black and White Photography107

Classics in Lego108
An illustrative summary of iconic pictures with their pairs of Balakov’s Lego figure pictures109 which are reconstucting famous moments in the history of mankind.

Black and White Photography110

Black and White Photography111

Mark Daniel Owen112
I heart you. Do you see what we see?

Black and White Photography113

Sources and Resources

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/category/monday-inspiration/
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/04/28/really-stunning-pictures-and-photos/
  3. 3 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/03/10/35-fantastic-hdr-pictures/
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/05/15/more-really-stunning-desktop-wallpapers/
  5. 5 http://2photo.ru/2008/05/30/legendarnaja_toni_frissell.html
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  7. 7 http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Street/81466
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  33. 33 http://www.wired.com/culture/art/multimedia/2008/05/gallery_top_10_black_white?slide=9&slideView=7
  34. 34 http://www.wired.com/culture/art/multimedia/2008/05/gallery_top_10_black_white?slide=9&slideView=7
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  37. 37 http://www.thespiderawards.com/2007presentation/photoshow/winners/30_year-pro/pages/01_clement_michele_009.htm
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  41. 41 http://festival.magnumphotos.com/60_years_1997.php
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  43. 43 http://seen.by.spiegel.de/patrick-figaj/zeremonie
  44. 44 http://seen.by.spiegel.de/patrick-figaj/zeremonie
  45. 45 http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Alison/49837
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  48. 48 http://seen.by.spiegel.de/arndt-laude/alignment
  49. 49 http://seen.by.spiegel.de/arndt-laude/alignment
  50. 50 http://www.flickr.com/photos/jfa/26254584/
  51. 51 http://www.photogs.com/bwworld/50masterphotogs.html
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  53. 53 http://flickr.com/photos/91489640@N00/2078280247/
  54. 54 http://flickr.com/photos/91489640@N00/2078280247/
  55. 55 http://flickr.com/photos/91489640@N00/2079069792/
  56. 56 http://www.thespiderawards.com/2007presentation/photoshow/winners/7_nature/pages/02_Roy%20McKeown_Snowy%20Sheep.htm
  57. 57 http://www.thespiderawards.com/2007presentation/photoshow/winners/7_nature/pages/02_Roy%20McKeown_Snowy%20Sheep.htm
  58. 58 http://www.thespiderawards.com/2007presentation/photoshow/winners/30_year-pro/pages/02_hinton-adam_brazil-01.htm
  59. 59 http://www.thespiderawards.com/2007presentation/photoshow/winners/30_year-pro/pages/02_hinton-adam_brazil-01.htm
  60. 60 http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanshnookenraggen/350143448/
  61. 61 http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanshnookenraggen/350143448/
  62. 62 http://www.rodneysmith.com/portfolio.php
  63. 63 http://www.rodneysmith.com/portfolio.php
  64. 64 http://flickr.com/photos/droledeciel/2097005977/
  65. 65 http://flickr.com/photos/droledeciel/2097005977/
  66. 66 http://www.shazeensamad.com/index.php?showimage=135
  67. 67 http://www.shazeensamad.com/index.php?showimage=135
  68. 68 http://flickr.com/photos/9480607@N07/2425407374/
  69. 69 http://flickr.com/photos/9480607@N07/2425407374/
  70. 70 http://seen.by.spiegel.de/pedro-meyer/ipanema
  71. 71 http://seen.by.spiegel.de/pedro-meyer/ipanema
  72. 72 http://seen.by.spiegel.de/pedro-meyer/dois-irmaos
  73. 73 http://2photo.ru/2008/05/23/zavorazhivajushhie_fotografii_nashejj_planety_zemlja_fotograf_mitch_dobrowner.html
  74. 74 http://2photo.ru/2008/05/23/zavorazhivajushhie_fotografii_nashejj_planety_zemlja_fotograf_mitch_dobrowner.html
  75. 75 http://2photo.ru/2008/05/23/zavorazhivajushhie_fotografii_nashejj_planety_zemlja_fotograf_mitch_dobrowner.html
  76. 76 http://2photo.ru/2008/05/23/zavorazhivajushhie_fotografii_nashejj_planety_zemlja_fotograf_mitch_dobrowner.html
  77. 77 http://2photo.ru/2008/05/23/zavorazhivajushhie_fotografii_nashejj_planety_zemlja_fotograf_mitch_dobrowner.html
  78. 78 http://www.thespiderawards.com/2007presentation/photoshow/winners/4_architectural/pages/03_robertino-nikolic-barcelona-1.htm
  79. 79 http://www.thespiderawards.com/2007presentation/photoshow/winners/4_architectural/pages/03_robertino-nikolic-barcelona-1.htm
  80. 80 http://vi.sualize.us/view/a49c8941fc3c0efcd73a8978a4fca092/
  81. 81 http://vi.sualize.us/view/a49c8941fc3c0efcd73a8978a4fca092/
  82. 82 http://flickr.com/photos/quasebart/1887797979/
  83. 83 http://flickr.com/photos/quasebart/1887797979/
  84. 84 http://www.flickr.com/photos/hughes_leglise/2218825512/
  85. 85 http://www.flickr.com/photos/hughes_leglise/2218825512/
  86. 86 http://www.flickr.com/photos/santu/3739836/
  87. 87 http://www.flickr.com/photos/santu/3739836/
  88. 88 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruipalha/2258626354/
  89. 89 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruipalha/2550926451/
  90. 90 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruipalha/1846898473/
  91. 91 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruipalha/2329075219/
  92. 92 http://flickr.com/photos/91489640@N00/2078273883/in/set-72157603350551499/
  93. 93 http://flickr.com/photos/91489640@N00/2078273883/in/set-72157603350551499/
  94. 94 http://flickr.com/photos/randommemory-s-photography/1442997069/
  95. 95 http://flickr.com/photos/randommemory-s-photography/1442997069/
  96. 96 http://flickr.com/photos/gdiazdeleon/402179913/
  97. 97 http://flickr.com/photos/gdiazdeleon/402179913/
  98. 98 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ickbins/2327802640/
  99. 99 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ickbins/2327802640/
  100. 100 http://seen.by.spiegel.de/jana-stolzer/namenlos
  101. 101 http://seen.by.spiegel.de/jana-stolzer/namenlos
  102. 102 http://www.thespiderawards.com/2007presentation/photoshow/winners/10_photojournalism/pages/01_Vega-Omar_StrugglingToSurvive.htm
  103. 103 http://www.thespiderawards.com/2007presentation/photoshow/winners/10_photojournalism/pages/01_Vega-Omar_StrugglingToSurvive.htm
  104. 104 http://flickr.com/photos/fastboy/305981741/in/set-72157603302866924/
  105. 105 http://flickr.com/photos/fastboy/305981741/in/set-72157603302866924/
  106. 106 http://flickr.com/photos/7401855@N08/789616998/
  107. 107 http://flickr.com/photos/7401855@N08/789616998/
  108. 108 http://www.kox.sk/?p=702
  109. 109 http://www.flickr.com/photos/balakov/
  110. 110 http://www.kox.sk/?p=702
  111. 111 http://www.kox.sk/?p=702
  112. 112 http://www.flickr.com/photos/markdanielowen/492396511/
  113. 113 http://www.flickr.com/photos/markdanielowen/492396511/
  114. 114 http://www.flickr.com/groups/photomasters/pool/
  115. 115 http://2photo.ru/category/w_b_foto/
  116. 116 http://www.flickr.com/groups/650308@N23/pool/
  117. 117 http://www.flickr.com/groups/verydecisivemoments/pool/
  118. 118 http://www.flickr.com/groups/jesusx2/pool/
  119. 119 http://www.flickr.com/groups/photonoiretblanc/pool/
  120. 120 http://www.flickr.com/groups/excellencemoments/
  121. 121 http://www.netdiver.net/photography/
  122. 122 http://oreilly.com/catalog/9781933952277/
  123. 123 http://www.youthedesigner.com/2008/02/18/30-photos-that-inspired-me-to-learn-photography/
  124. 124 http://digital-photography-school.com/blog/5-black-and-white-photography-tips/
  125. 125 http://flickr.com/photos/91489640@N00/sets/72157603350551499/

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

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  1. 1

    Just beautiful…. could stare at them for hours, very inspirational

    0
  2. 102

    this is incomprehensible for me. i’ve never seen photos like these, even in color! i absolutely adored the ones of the parts of earth and the ones taken far away from the cities.

    0
  3. 203

    Fantastic collection! Thank you for sharing this with the world.

    I would love to know what the person in “Birds” was doing and if they, ummm, survived jumping off the side of a tall building. Made my toes tingle….

    0
  4. 304

    I have always preferred black and white photography over color. So many more details can be seen without being distracted by color.
    One great photographer I didn’t see mentioned here is Clyde Butcher. He has done some fantastic shoots in Florida, Cuba and the western U.S.

    0
  5. 405

    PHOTOSHOPPED!

    0
  6. 506

    photoshop is cool, people can claim things and they have proof too.

    0
  7. 607

    I am amazingly annoyed! I’ve seen that ‘birds’ photograph many times before and always wanted to know where it’s from, especially since I’ve seen one that appears to have been taken from behind the man as he jumps. I saw this on clipmarks and thought I might finally find out where it’s from…no such luck.

    0
  8. 708

    saludos excelente presente

    0
  9. 809

    süper fotolar…

    0
  10. 910

    Very nice collection!

    0
  11. 1011

    breathtaking! How amazing that anyone nowadays can shoot beautiful photos!

    0
  12. 1112

    Shankar Vashist

    July 8, 2008 2:18 am

    Hi !

    Great pics… learning experience for budding photo enthusiasts.

    Cheers, Shankar

    0
  13. 1213

    I do not have words to describe what the above content is…..
    Only one thing can be said…. just out of the box thinking

    0
  14. 1314

    Fantastic collection!!!! Love it.

    0
  15. 1415

    Awesome collection!, I can assure you I have more ideas now thant 30 min. ago!, I added your feed to my reader, big thanks and keep it up!

    0
  16. 1516

    Nice pictures…Lame descriptions… The writer evidently thinks they’re qualified to discuss art because they use words like, “powerful”, “perspective”, and “composition”.

    0
  17. 1617

    SUPER:-))

    Selam from Bosnia:-))

    0
  18. 1718

    Amazing. My fav pages!

    0
  19. 1819

    Some of these are definitely silver gelatin. They’re phenomenal.

    0
  20. 1920

    amazing shots somewhat inspiring:)

    0
  21. 2021

    amazing! great!

    0
  22. 2122

    Thanks for bringing together such a fine collection of black and white images. There’s a lot to learn just by spending time looking at these – so thanks again :)

    Maybe one day one of mine will feature in an article like this!

    0
  23. 2223

    waaaaaaaaaaaw

    0
  24. 2324

    WHOA!! they are all fantastic!! i really do LOVE black & white photography the best. i think it really brings out the raw emotions within a moment. very good captures!

    0
  25. 2425

    Simply Great !!!

    Giving U A Fealing Of Being Touched By Heart

    0
  26. 2526

    Wow! These are amazing! Beautiful.. great inspiration!

    0
  27. 2627

    Wonderful collection here! There’s also some nice B&W photography at Whispers on the Side.

    0
  28. 2728

    im amazed…. all black and white photos tells a story.. they rock.. wonderfull collection

    0
  29. 2829

    locked up abroad

    August 31, 2008 1:28 pm

    the world needs to see this …..so I’m posting this on facebook for my friend to see

    0
  30. 2930

    i think it is amazingly good i think rehlaerhgerahlareh

    0
  31. 3031

    Simply supurb

    0
  32. 3132

    wondering if anyone could help me find a certain picture( was told it was well known just didnt know the title)…. its a black and white photo of a lady putting on lipstick sitting on then edge of what looks like a hotel bed and her legs up on the dresser…. guy in backround with shirt off.

    0
  33. 3233

    These are amazin’
    Add this one to the list Reflexstock.com

    0
  34. 3334

    Hi webmaster!

    0
  35. 3435

    Brilliant photos! Cheers!

    0
  36. 3536

    there was a picture somewhere on this site, little girl/ with a hoody on or hood over their head anyone know where to fine this pic

    0
  37. 3637

    What a great collection. I do have a question for anyone out there who might be able to help: My digital camera has a BW filter setting. Is it better to shoot photos in BW or shoot them in color and remove the color in Photoshop? Feel free to e-mail me: design [at] 906graphics.com.
    Thanks!

    0
  38. 3738

    hunt for bnw pics for my wall got me to this site !
    and i am impressed … got no words … my fave is no peeping please .

    0
  39. 3839
  40. 3940

    verdaderamente magníficas fotos de la gran sensibilidad humana

    0
  41. 4041

    seldom see pictures like these! really great!

    0
  42. 4142

    love the pictures keep them going but have more animals and insects

    xx

    0
  43. 4243

    This post is amazing. What great insight and great pictures I’ve never been exposed to.

    0
  44. 4344

    omg their butuful ive never seen pictures so butuful who ever took thees pictures should be a amazing personne

    1
  45. 4445

    Also check this out, Black and white cityscape photographymartialphoto.net

    0
  46. 4546

    halaluyahhhh!!!

    0
  47. 4647

    The best of Black and white collection i have seen.
    Great Job.

    0
  48. 4748

    Sortins Technologies

    October 20, 2008 12:28 am

    really really beautiful photography and i like black also very much. thnq

    0
  49. 4849

    Great shots and you have a typo “Sometiems “

    0
  50. 4950

    These pictures are beautiful! I love them ♥ :)

    0

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