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

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

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


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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.

  1. 1

    they are wonderful! such beauty

  2. 352

    With regard to “Birds” – Photographer is known – photo itself is a photomanipulation. You may find shot in question under following link:

    (gallery itself: )

    and his homepage:

  3. 703

    just ican say about this pictures are amazing and i love it so much because i love this 2 colors (blak and white) :D
    thank you …..:)

  4. 1054

    just ican say about this pictures are amazing and i love it so much because i love this 2 colors (blak and white) :D and i think Tour Eiffel picture the best (thats my mind anyone)
    thank you….:D

  5. 1405

    I love this photographs

  6. 1756

    black & white shots look great, i also love black & white and nature , so i created a blog those who loves black & white

  7. 2107

    black and white the two colors are the real colors of earth start with white and ends with black. great picture

  8. 2458

    This is why i love taking pictres.

  9. 2809

    I recently bought an antique book and inside of it I found a black & white picture of what looks like a caucasian middle aged gentleman in Japan wearing a komono. The back captions read, “Kawakura, Japan August 1930…Does he look sick?” I found this photograph quite intriguing considering the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred not long after this picture was taken….just wondering if there is anyone out there that is interested in this picture, and can possibly tell me more about it??

  10. 3160

    spectacular.. really good work not just about how this photos are amazing in its colour or its subject..but also how smart to inspire us…& yaa black and white are the real colours

  11. 3511

    keep it real dude

  12. 3862

    You couldnt be more factual

  13. 4213

    Duncan Cunningham-reid

    October 23, 2011 3:45 pm

    Wow,there are some grat photographers out there!.Thanx for sharing

  14. 4564

    Really nice photos mate :) I am also an amateur black & white photographer. will be happy to have your comments .

  15. 4915

    Hey, i don’t know what other people think, but thank you so much for sharing those pictures with me. I think your a wonderfull artist. And your images are so powerfull and moving.
    I’m not much of a photogropher but i stil lwanna say well done and i hope your proud of them because they’re amazing

  16. 5266

    Ernesto Sarmiento

    November 4, 2011 1:51 pm

    Un verdadero talento fotografico , realmente exelente

  17. 5617

    I love B&W photos. The ones above are great. Could someone help me find a photo I saw in a book 15 years ago. It was a white church in a valley sun lit by a break in the clouds. I thought it was Adams but cannot find it in any of his books. I remember reading the photographer saw it, jumped out of his car, put on red filter, took one photo, than cloud closed up… Thanks

  18. 5968

    J’aime le noire et le blanc

  19. 6319

    the unknown photographer that captured the man jumping on top of the car, is iranian. i can tell by car number.

  20. 6670

    i like your photo. very nice

  21. 7021


  22. 7372

    thanks for theas biautifull pictures…

  23. 7723

    All pics are asom and very nice and meaning full to. I am lovin it to see.

  24. 8074

    That was a frankly great blog post.

  25. 8425

    This black and white photography is amazing!

  26. 8776

    Stunning! Super! Adorable! These photos are very very impressive and I like them very much. Many thanks for the author

  27. 9127

    I Love B&W photography. They capture the realness of life in whatever scenario which is portrayed. All these photos brought all different emotions and told many different stories which is credited to each individual who gave us these pictures. Inspiring, gracious and unique. Thank you.

  28. 9478

    Wow I work with the youth in south Africa, and some of your images hit home, apart for the beautifully ones there are those that make you think, you have a wonderful gift God bless, pastor K

  29. 9829

    These are some great pictures. I enjoyed looking at them and I am even more excited about becoming a photographter.

  30. 10180

    Cool! it’s simply mind blowing, breathtaking, and very captivating. I love all the B&W photos here. thanks I ♥ B&W. :D

  31. 10531

    i love b&w photograpy

  32. 10882

    i’m interesting black and white photos

  33. 11233

    The “Birds” picture is by an Argentine photographer Horacio Coppola ;)

  34. 11584

    What an amazing collection of black and whites. Some of these I just sat and stared at for awhile. Thanks for pulling these together. Nice job.

  35. 11935

    shubhechchha budhathoki

    March 14, 2013 7:25 pm

    black and white never looked so colorful before

  36. 12286

    Ramon M. Lindsey

    March 19, 2013 1:43 pm

    Really amazing work done. I love the Candy Cigarette image very much.

  37. 12637

    Black and white film photography is an artform unto itself. From the capture of the image to the darkroom, these photographers prove themselves true masters of the art. May they always be with us to dig through the apparent and the superficial.

  38. 12988
  39. 13339

    Beautiful images, thanks for sharing them, they inspire me !

  40. 13690

    These are exquisite images; however, to say this:

    “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.”

    No, no, no.. It doesn’t matter whether a photo is in black and white OR color – there’s nothing mysterious about achieving sharpness (and clarity) in an image.

    The photographer makes a decision at every turn – using a black and white film at ISO 100 (*or shooting below) with a good lens, proper exposure and, ahem, focus, achieves these results. There is nothing difficult about it – no more so than using a color film.

  41. 14041

    I must disagree with your comment about the sharpness capabilities of B&W photography. Razor sharp images are a only available in B&W. As a photographer of some 45 years, B&W was the norm. You had to have sharp images in B&W or they didn’t work. Even such images of a soft waterfall have a sharp subject matter in the land surrounding them. I have seen much photography out there that passes as art that uses lazy technique. Most young photographers today have never seriously worked in B&W. They use editing tool to remove color and then tweak the image to get what they want. The masters of B&W photography: Ansel Adams, the Weston brothers, Imogene Cunningham to name a few, studied light, the source of all photography, and learned how to use it in it’s given and purest state to create the image they wanted. I honestly feel that before you can be called a serious photographer, you must study and perfect your skills in B&W, otherwise you are just another person taking a snapshot. My opinion and like the saying goes “Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one”.

  42. 14392

    Dear Sir,
    i am a fine art student frm india and also a chef and i have no words to appreciate the photography which i just i have seen in black and white pls accept my sincerely thanks for sharing such wonderful picture on this smashing magazine site, i wanted to share this picture for all frnds and collgs,and all the photography lovers pls allow me to share on my social website..
    thank u again for such beautiful pictures
    Ajay Mahadware

  43. 14743

    all the collection and pictures are to good .
    Great work by the photographer :)

  44. 15094

    B&W is timeless.

  45. 15445

    Masterpiece my ass it’s a piece of shit; all of it, that is.

  46. 15796

    Inspire you to do what? Throw up?

  47. 16147

    When I think of the word beautiful I think of death and destruction because it’s the only thing that can fix many of those who have acute or very serious problems. That’s beautiful.

  48. 16498

    I love these photos. Adam Hinton’s work reminds me of Sterling Wilson’s. Take a look for yourself at

  49. 16849

    @Anuradha – Me too ! am only 14 but I have a strong passion for photography and i’d love taking up a course. I just dunno how to go about it

  50. 17200

    Anupriya your photos are really beautiful like u. i like it.

  51. 17551

    In everything there is a picture, and i do mean everything , for instance water splashed on concrete I look at it an say to myself , there’s a picture there

  52. 17902

    @ elrith
    you seem so bitter and frustrated with….”art” or life in general.
    there are so many ways to express yourself through art, whether it be b&w photography or color photography or sculpting small or giant structures. you may not like b&w but that doesnt mean it is horrible, thats just an opinion and not a fact. try taking a few deep breathes and maybe some counseling sessions too. “just my opinion”

  53. 18253

    chenesai monera

    May 23, 2010 7:15 am

    c’mon elrith, the reason why you use them in your class is because they are good, you can’t sell what you don’t believe in , LOL was lookin at your comments and you really sound like you hate black and white photography, but believe me there is just something about them, not too busy , liberating and happy !

  54. 18604

    Elrith don’t forget to take your pills …

  55. 18955

    You’re just a plain downright jerk! Why don’t you just go jump off a bridge b/c we don’t need people like you in the world. Just b/c you can’t create art doesn’t mean that you have to spew your vomit all over the place. Asshole ….

  56. 19306

    you are such a limited and boring stubborn man

  57. 19657

    Even if you can’t appreciate this beauty, others can so keep your nasty comments to yourself. Don’t you have anything better to do?

  58. 20008

    Sad person;and very grammatically challenged. If you cannot see beauty without colour then you really are a very sad person.

  59. 20359

    I’m colorblind and i’m a photographer, i think they’re very nice.

  60. 20710

    the point of black and white is to see the beauty behind the coloured picture. if u really look at black and white pictures they show emotion and feeling more so than colour. everybody has there own opinion and these pictures are art in one way or another. black and and white sepia, negative, colour no matter wat colour u take a picture in it is art. art can come in many differnt forms and black and white is one of them. so just thin of the inner beauty like a person. as they say dont judge a book by its cover look in the picture to find the real meaning

  61. 21061

    and you have the cheapest and worst way of understanding what art is. art can be spelled as “rat”….. but elrith can be spelled as “hitler”. lol. no one likes hitler.

  62. 21412

    Brian, I guess that makes you one as well for looking at it then! If you don’t like it, what are you doing here then!?

    Very nice work I think!!

  63. 21763

    Nice positive response. Well done.

  64. 22114

    ricardo martínez

    May 31, 2010 11:11 am

    Esta seguro que esta tomado clases de arte? no será de plomería?

  65. 22465

    just SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! no one cares about your pathetic out-take on life. just because you cant find anything beautiful about art doesn’t mean we dont. so get off your sorry butt and get a life and stop putting people who are more cultured than you down.

  66. 22816

    Wow, I’ve never seen someone go mental over black and white. You racist Nazi!!!! Let’s see you try to take a picture like the above. Uncultured Swine!

  67. 23167

    are you serious elrith ? go slit your wrists man holy shit, showing pictures in color and then in black and white sendsa message, B&W photography is an ART it makes you think of the thoughts behind the picture like the little boy in the third world country, makes you think of what he is going through, his world is being destroyed and is it beautiful ? i definately dont think so. so keep your horrible self pity thought to yourself.

    great pictures by the way

  68. 23518

    you guys know that this person is partly right, without destruction and death those pictures wont have the emotional meaning or what ever messages it is trying to convey.

  69. 23869

    Elrith shut up, you are so rude

  70. 24220

    I have a suggestion: Why don´t you just kill yourself? and rid us from your stupidity. Thank you very much.

  71. 24571

    Elrith what the fuck is wrong with you, these photos are really good.

  72. 24922

    First off start taking pictures that you can take. Pictures around your home and local environment. Don’t be in a rush. Patience is a photographers best tool. Study other people’s work. Start off with film, it teaches a great discipline. follow your own road and do not be distracted by fads and fancies and what’s “cool”. Be a very harsh critic of your own work. If there is a night-course in film photography near you (I have no idea where you live) go to it. Learn. It’s actually not difficult and will give you a rock-solid grounding. And if you particularly want to do black-and-white photography film knocks spots off digital.

    If you’d like to see some of my work go to

    Good luck,

  73. 25273

    Inspires me to want to scissor kick you in the dome for being so shallow. Obviously, Elrith.. You wouldnt know good art if it was stabbed in your retina. So you dont like the medium its in, we are all entitled to our opinions but sometimes you just need to keep your mouth shut and step back and enjoy the picture as itself. If you dont like art why are you taking an art class?

  74. 25624

    i so agree with you annie

  75. 25975

    Dada then please show us something of your likings.


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