5 Unique B&W Tips: Portraits, Cityscapes, Travel Photos, & More (VIDEO)

Widely regarded as the father of Canadian photojournalism, Ted Grant is also the father of one of our favorite quotes: “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in b&w, you photograph their souls.”

Taken a step further, some outdoor subjects simply cry out to be rendered in monochrome, whether you’re shooting portraits, street scenes, cityscapes, or landscapes. In this regard, a couple options come to mind: Should you set your camera to make the shot in b&w, or is it preferable to shoot in color and convert the image during the editing process?

In the tutorial below, New York-based street photographer Hugh Brownstone answers these questions and others as he provides five essential tips for making compelling b&w photos with a digital camera. He covers camera settings, gear, exposure techniques, and editing options in barely three minutes.

Brownstone begins with a discussion of modern imaging technology, and explains how to configure the camera for optimum results. When using a mirrorless model, he says the first thing you should do is set the EVF to b&w. As he explains, “doing this will really speed up your ability to see in b&w.”

The second tip in this episode is new to us, as Brownstone recommends using the camera’s EVF to determine exposure—not by using the meter but by using your eye. His rationale is that, “you’ll be able to capture a richness in the blacks and retain details in the whites that the meter might miss.”

Brownstone also explains why it’s often best to capture in color and present in b&w, what he means by “composing for the edit,” and why it’s critical to plan carefully and be in the right place at the right time.

You can find more helpful videos on the B&H Photo Video YouTube channel, and explore Brownstone’s stunning work on his Instagram page.

And speaking of making better people pictures, check out our recent post explaining how to shoot compelling natural light portraits in your garage, using illumination from the open door.