Featured Photography

How to Create a Stunning Black and White Photo in 3 Simple Steps

When it comes to life and especially when it comes to photography my basic rule is to keep it simple.

If things start to get overly complicated I tend to tune out. Which is the exact reason I wrote my first photography book…all the other photography books (that I had to learn from) were too complicated! I longed to have someone explain it to me in a simple and easy to understand format so that’s how I wrote my book. No fluff. Straight to the point.

So obviously when it comes to turning a picture black and white…I’m gonna make it super simple.

There’s really only one rule I like to follow… make the blacks very black and the whites very white. I like to see a lot of contrast because that’s when the pictures really pop.

I’m going to show you how I convert a Black + White using Adobe Lightroom. But the steps are the same with practically any editing software or app.

Let’s take it step by step using sweet Stella. This is the shot I took straight out of my camera. She looks slightly greenish because she was sitting under a green umbrella. (Good time to turn it black and white, right? 🙂 )


To begin, simply convert your image to black and white using the black and white converter in whatever editing software you are using. In Lightroom, the black + White function is in the Develop Module on the upper right. Here’s the photo directly after the conversion:


Almost all basic black and white conversions will give you a very basic black and white but I like to call it grey and greyer. So that means you need to bring in some contrast. Instead of just increasing the “Contrast” slider I like to first increase the whites.

Here I increased whites to +63 but it will vary depending on your image. Don’t be afraid to play around with the sliders. If it looks too white or too dark at the end, just go back and make adjustments.


And finally, just decrease your blacks. That will make your details and features pop. Here I decreased the black to -73. But again, play around with the whites and blacks until you find the perfect balance.


When I first began editing, before I trusted myself to just eyeball it, I would keep sample photos in a folder that I could compare my work to. It was a good way to keep me on point and help me hold the vision of what I was trying to achieve.

Tip: If you’re using an editing program or app that doesn’t have separate black and white adjustments, use the contrast and exposure sliders. You won’t be able to get precise adjustments, but you can get very close toggling between the two.


Need to see it in action? No prob! I created a video just for you… (It’s under 2 minutes!)


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