15 Monochrome Photography Ideas with Amazing Examples

People, who want to make strides in B&W photography, have to tackle numerous challenges that arise in the process. Since there are no colors to rely on, you need to come up with other means to express emotions and show different things.

You need to start concentrating on contrast, composition, and exposure to make such images arresting. If you want to take beautiful monochrome photos to diversify your portfolio, this selection of offbeat monochrome photography ideas is worth studying.

1. Experiment with Light and Shadows

shadows monochrome photography ideas

One of the simplest ways to take interesting photography black and white pictures is to incorporate and manipulate shadows. They help highlight patterns and shapes and can turn an average scene into something truly fascinating. It is better to start with portable objects that cast shadows because it is almost impossible to achieve a proper angle of the shadow on the first try. So, you will need to relocate the object till you get the desired shadow.

shadows monochrome photography ideas

If you grasp how to work with shadows, you can take many cool images. The best thing about shadows is that they add depth and even mystery to common scenes. If you manage to capture shadows in a gloomy place, you will receive a terrific mysterious photo. The main conundrum here is to keep a part of a composition obscured by shadows to encourage viewers to imagine what is hidden there. Chase harsh, direct light to create a deep shadowed look.

2. Low Key

low key monochrome photography ideas

A low-key photo is one with low contrast. It means that highlights and shadows in a picture are very similar. Low key photography is unrivaled if you are after intense images with a specific mood and emotion. In fact, most dramatic and powerful B&W portraits are taken in accordance with a low-key technique.

low key monochrome photography ideas

If you want to realize such a black and white monochromatic idea, you should create a very dark background. Actually, it can be totally black. The light beam must be directed onto the main subject. Thus, the resulting low-key image will be very intriguing. The interplay of light and shadows will spike viewers’ interest straight away.

3. Silhouette

silhouette monochrome photography ideas

As a part of monochrome experiments, you can try your hand at silhouette photography. To achieve this particular effect, you need to locate a strong source of light behind your model. Ask a person to move to get a recognizable shape. Or, you can choose an inanimate object, but make sure it looks interesting against a solid background.

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4. Introduce Patterns

patterns monochrome photography ideas

Patterns around us immediately attract our attention. Those specializing in black and white photography also favor patterns because they make up fantastic symmetrical subjects. When focusing on a particular pattern, you don’t have to worry about various distractions that may degrade the visual appeal of your shots.

pattern monochrome photography ideas

Repetitive patterns are most interesting to photograph in B&W. Our eyes unintentionally follow such patterns, especially if they are natural, not human-made. Nature is replete with such patterns but you need to train your brain and eyes to notice them. Start with flowers and then look around you attentively to find more fitting examples.

5. Architectural Shapes

architecture monochrome photography ideas

If you find inspiration in phenomenal architectural feats, you can use them as a basis for your photography black and white pictures. Buildings may be of different shapes and sizes, with unusual textures and patterns, so you can take amazing images if you choose the correct angle. Besides, such constructions are typically set against the sky, which serves as a wonderful background in B&W images.

architecture monochrome photography ideas

Taking monochromatic images of architectural objects is also advantageous because this way you learn to ignore colors and evoke viewers’ interest in other ways. Besides, people are used to seeing buildings as they are, and they will be intrigued when you show them a common spot from a new perspective. Of course, it takes some time to master this skill but it is necessary to think outside the box if you want to become noticed.

6. Highlight Textures

texture monochrome photography ideas

When you remove colors from pictures, textures become more visible. Even slight fluctuations in textures make captivating tonal changes. If you manage to capture the difference in textures, you will get incredible photos. This is one of the most popular macro photography ideas.

7. Shoot Through Windows

window monochrome photography ideas

Shooting through a window results in truly off-kilter photos. In fact, this approach resembles the double exposure technique, when you get 2 pictures – the scene behind a window and the reflected one. If you take such shots in B&W, a natural distinction between 2 frames is almost invisible. This way, you may encourage viewers to think about what is happening in the photo.

8. Emphasize Contrast

contrast monochrome photography ideas

All monochrome photography ideas have one thing in common – they rely on a distinct contrast between 2 objects instead of harnessing colors. You need to play with shades of grey to make people notice the distinctions. Look for scenes that contain a high tonal contrast between a subject and the surroundings.

contrast monochrome photography ideas

Contrast is your main instrument to highlight a subject. For example, you can place a light-colored element against a dark background, making it front and center straight away. You need to notice shades and tones, and combine them into a coherent whole.

9. Document Animals

animals monochrome photography ideas

Capturing pets and wild animals is really difficult, as they tend to run away when they notice a person nearby. However, it is worth going the extra mile to take images of these graceful and mighty creatures in monochrome.

animals monochrome photography ideas

This way, you can accentuate their beautiful features and fur, keeping the rest of the frame less noticeable. Besides, you will focus on their movements and interaction which is always interesting to look at.

10. Capture Landscapes

landscape monochrome photography ideas

Nature offers so many possibilities to experiment with black and white photography ideas. If you don’t know what to begin with, look through the B&W landscape images by Ansel Adams. They have been taken almost a century ago but they still amaze with textures and shapes. You should go to a picturesque location with distinct natural phenomena. The best variant is to photograph in the mountains. There, you can find different patterns and shapes entwined into one breathtaking composition.

landscape monochrome photography ideas

Alternatively, you can find a place with a water body against an overcast sky. There is a clear difference between the foreground and the background, which makes pictures beguiling. Keep in mind that the core essence of black and white monochromatic photography is to notice how contrast and shadows are combined in one scene.

11. Urban Street Shots

street monochrome photography ideas

We are used to seeing colorful buildings, monuments, shops, buses, and other objects around us. But photographing them as they are won’t cause admiration in your potential clients. So, you can choose another way and take a B&W photo of a very popular place. This way, you will surely amaze the audience.

12. Underwater Diving

diving monochrome photography ideas

If you are skilled enough to experiment with creative photography ideas, I recommend combining B&W style with underwater shooting. This is very challenging but if you do everything properly, you will receive awe-inspiring images. Try to capture the moment when a person dives into the water and there appear bubbles around the body. Though your images will be deprived of colors, it doesn’t take a toll on the overall aesthetic beauty of a shot.

13. Apply the Rule of Thirds

rule of thirds monochrome photography ideas

I believe this is a great rule no matter whether you practice color or black and white monochromatic photography. The essence of the rule of thirds is to divide a composition by 3 vertical and 3 horizontal lines. There appear points of intersection and you need to locate a subject on one of these points. You can choose either a central or off-center position. Anyway, your image will be nice to look at.

14. Use Negative Space

negative space monochrome photography ideas

Any photo has some negative space but when it comes to B&W photography, this area acquires special importance. All in all, this photography genre tilts towards minimalism due to the absence of colors. You can leverage the negative space to highlight the negative space even more. The resulting picture will be captivating.

negative space monochrome photography ideas

The best thing about using negative space is that everything is rather straightforward. You need to declutter your frame so that the main subject occupies just a piece of the scene while the bigger part is empty.

15. Create a Powerful Vanishing Point

vanishing point monochrome photography ideas

You have probably noticed that paths and roads simply “disappear” when they reach the horizon. This spot is called the vanishing point. If you like photographing such leading lines, you should definitely try to take several black and white images.

vanishing point monochrome photography ideas

This is also a cool black and white photos idea if you want to get a mystical picture. Besides, such images have a deeper metaphorical meaning, encouraging people to think about their lives, their progress, achievement, and where they actually move. You can play with sizes and scales depending on the effect you strive to achieve.

Bonus Tools

lightroom presets monochrome

If you want to turn your color photos into B&W masterpieces, you should use this bundle. It contains pro-level filters that you can apply to your shots and get the desired results in a matter of seconds. They are suitable for transforming wedding, event, fashion, and portrait images.