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Beautiful Black and White Photography


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 Link

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

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 Reader Black-and-White Photos33
Ten extraordinary black and white photographs sent to the 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

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

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

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

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


Black and White Photography93

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

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 Link

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 Link

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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 UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    Sally Mann is my favorite photographer.

    I was lucky enough to be able to see some of her prints in person at the Guggenheim, and I can honestly say that was the first time a photograph affected me so much!

  2. 2

    In black and white, I always loved the work of David Doubilet.

  3. 3

    Erik Teichmann

    June 9, 2008 4:22 am

    Some of my favorite black and white photos are from English Russia. My particular favorite on this page is this one of a man and his accordion.

  4. 4


    Im First ^^

  5. 5

    splendid and i’m the second one to comment ^^

  6. 6

    Simply amazing

  7. 7

    Great article!

  8. 8


  9. 9

    good photos, tobad i dont say any from deviantart. They have great bw photo’s aswell

  10. 10

    Beautiful. i saved em all in my inspiration folder! thanks for such a great post Smashingmagazine

  11. 11
  12. 12

    Berk-plage, France, is spelled Berck. Great article, nice moment to read it.

  13. 13

    Wonderful images.

    The ninth photo: the author is Garry Winogrand

  14. 14
  15. 15

    AWESOME. But the word is LIGHTING not LIGHTNING!!!

  16. 16

    Thibaut Allender

    June 9, 2008 4:00 am

    Nice examples.

    The second photo really makes me think about one of my series. More there if you like them ;-)

  17. 17


    June 9, 2008 4:05 am



  18. 18

    Magnifique :-)

  19. 19

    I love the ‘Crossing Line’ picture!

  20. 20

    Candy Cigarette, beautiful shot. It is a boy disguised in girl?

  21. 21

    great shots!! I love “Birds” and the pictures of Jack Radcliffe most.
    beautiful. To me it seems that most of the pictures have a sad, melancholic touch. I like this, however :)

  22. 22

    Amazing… see my pictures: [link][/link]

  23. 23

    You swine!. I’ve been quite happy with my photography of late and now I’m depressed

  24. 24

    Anthem Creative

    June 9, 2008 5:00 am

    Excellent post and stunning photography. I must say though, the most compelling element of black and white photography, in addition to the reasons listed, is the capturing and displaying of the brutally honest emotional value in its subjects. B&W photography can inspire laughter, tears, or any variety of emotional response in a way that no other medium seems to be able to accomplish.

  25. 25

    Really beautiful,


  26. 26

    simply amazing ……
    tired of seeing graphical pic’s nowdayz
    gr8 collection :D

  27. 27

    I’d prefer colored version, some amazing shots there.

  28. 28

    Absolutely amazing shots. The photographers ought to be proud of themselves.

  29. 29


    June 9, 2008 5:45 am

    the piece entitled “birds” is a photomanipulation submitted on approximately 1 year ago. It is not an original photo.

  30. 30

    I love black and white photographs much more than the colored ones.
    They always transport the feelings much purer than with colors.
    Great selection by the way.


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