ten Tips for Beautiful Black and White Headshots

10 Tips for Lovely Black and White Headshots

10 tips for beautiful black and white headshots

Black and white has long been a popular way to capture headshots with impact and visual interest. The lack of colour helps to emphasize the subject while discarding information that is not relevant.  

And in this article, I’m sharing 10 black and white headshot tips to help you get the best results.

Let’s get started.

Headshots vs . pictures

black and white headshots
A headshot is always a portrait, but the portrait (including a closely cropped portrait) is not frequently a headshot. Remember, headshots (no matter the type) come with a specific goal.

Should you be new to family portrait photography , it might assistance to clear up what a headshot in fact is before you try to create one.

Portraits :   In general terms, a portrait photograph is a representation of a person. Portrait photography is a wide genre that encompasses virtually every subgenre that involves photographing people. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking studio portraits , street candids , or fashion photography . If it has a person within the frame, it’s probably the portrait.

Headshots : Headshots are a subgenre of portrait digital photography. The difference is that headshots work a very specific purpose. Whether it’s actors’ headshots or even corporate headshots, the purpose is to sell something. That something could be an actor’s ability to fit a role’s physical requirements, or it could be your business professionalism and reliability.

Headshots are usually limited to close-up images from the subject’s head. They can include head and shoulders and also half-length shots. Before recording a headshot, it’s important you understand where and how the photo will be used so you can get the right shot for the right purpose.

Techniques for black and white headshots

There are zero hard and fast rules for creating headshots. However , following these tips may hopefully help!

And as always with photography, remember: There is no a good way to do anything.

In other words, nothing listed here is a guideline of any sort. In case a tip fails to help you get the outcomes you want or need, in that case discard or revamp this.  

1 . Remember that a headshot is different from a portrait

portrait vs headshot

Yes, we’ve currently discussed this – but when you’re in the middle of a session, it is easy to get caught up and start changing your approach. This isn’t always a problem in a normal portrait session, but with headshots, you should make sure you’re focused on the specific end result. If you change add and the results aren’t appearing your subject in the preferred manner, you’ll have wasted time and energy on images that are unsuitable for the subject’s uses.

One way to help keep you on track is to ask your subject to share the purpose of their headshot. Allow them to be because specific and detailed as is possible. Once you have an answer to that question, you should find it much easier to stay on track.  

If you are photographing an actor or actress with representation, ask them for agency’s headshot guidelines (or ask the agency yourself). This will give you a strict set of limitations and help to ensure you get the required result.  

2 . Getting it ideal in-camera is just as important as ever

black and white vs color portrait comparison
By taking with black and white in mind and achieving it right in-camera, you are able to help make the conversion process much easier.
Cannon 5D Mark III | Canon EF 50mm f/2. 5 Macro | 50mm | 1/125s | f/5. 6 | ISO 100

Depending on where your headshots are going to wind up, you might find that you simply can’t do any edits above basic retouching . You should be allowed the black and white conversion and some fundamental blemish elimination , but much more compared to that might not be acceptable.  

Therefore , do whatever you can to get your images right in the camera. Lighting your images well with good exposure and good comparison. Learn your lighting styles and use a meter if you need to.  

Get this step right, and you might find that you have little more editing to do beyond the actual black and white conversion.

3. Start in color

It could be tempting to set your digital camera to a black and white mode at the point of shooting. You can do this – but if you capture JPEGs, I would advise against it.

By choosing this route, you will be discarding a huge amount of colour information at the very beginning. To find the best conversions, you’ll want to later on manipulate your color information to get the very best black and white results.

(However, note that RAW shooters can use a black and white mode while still retaining color information. ) 

4. Avoid shooting to crop

cropped portrait
By cropping down to the head-and-shoulders composition, you dispose of most of the information in the body. Instead, try to get your compositions right at the shooting phase.

This might be controversial, yet I’ll stand by it. If you are creating black and white headshots, attempt to get your composition as close up as possible to how you need it to end up.

Doing this will keep your images are as big as possible and have as much detail as possible when you pass them onto your client. If you capture before cropping out significant parts of your image, you are going to lose out on a large chunk associated with resolution.

5. Control contrast with lighting, not post-production

woman in the studio
Using a medium-sized octabox up close enables extremely soft light, thus controlling the contrast. Also, at camera right, you observe a background light that will reduces the overall contrast within the image.

This point goes back to getting it right in-camera, yet specifically for lighting.

One of the quickest ways to ruin a portrait would be to add a lot of unnatural comparison in the post-production phase.

Avoid this particular by setting up your lamps to get the contrast you want through the very start.  

You can do this through modifier selection and lighting ratios .  

6. Use fill to control your contrast

headshot with and without fill light
Left: Without fill. Right: With fill. Here you can see how a fill light might help you lift the shadows and control the contrast in your pictures.

If you want to decrease contrast, ensure that you do it in-camera.

You can do this with fill light . Whether you work with a dedicated second light source or perhaps a reflector, introducing fill in to your images is a great way to control exactly how your grayscale headshots turn out.

7. Think in values rather than color

black and white headshot of a woman
In this image, you can see four distinct areas of value: The highlights of the skin, the midtones of the sweater, and two shadow areas for the hair and the background. Being able to see these at the time of shooting will help you design your black and white headshots better.
Canon 5D Mark III | Canon EF 50mm f/2. 5 Macro | 50mm | 1/160 sec  | f/4 | ISO 100

As you are starting in color, it can help to think of things with regards to values.

At its most basic, value simply describes where colors fall on a spectrum between pure white and pure black.

Now, once converted to black and white, almost everything in your images will appear as a shade of gray. If you’re able to visualize how the colors you see with your eyes will undoubtedly be represented in a black and white conversion, you will be better able to design your lighting before your subject even arrives.  

How can you learn to do this?

Practice. A lot of it.

Escape there and photograph everything you can, then convert to black and white so you can build this skill.

Remember, different conversion techniques affect color and value in different ways, so be sure to practice with as many conversion methods as possible.  

8. Minimize details in the frame

Because we are talking about headshots, you’ll need to understand that the entire point of the photograph is the person. Any extra details will only serve to detract from your subject.

So do what you can to minimize the impact of the background, the subject’s clothing, along with other elements in the photo.

For backgrounds, you can focus your efforts on finding the cleanest, most non-distracting backdrop. For clothing, ask your subjects to dress without distracting elements that will take the focus away from them. Patterns can be fine, but it might be best in the event that you avoided particularly bold picks like leopard-print and zebra-stripe tops.

on the lookout for. Focus on form

black and white headshot of a woman
Keep in mind that lighting your subject, remember to ensure that you’re using the light bulb to shape their presents in the best way possible.
Canon 5D Damaged spot III | Canon EF 50mm f/2. 5 Macro | 50mm | 1/100s  | f/9 | ISO 100

This goes back with basic lighting skills.

You need to shape one’s own subject’s face in a favorable way that also helps the house stand out in the frame.

You are searching for minimize other details, it’s the same the subject’s features you have
to focus on. Make as much sitting in front of them as you can.  

10. Eyes in addition to expressions are more important in the past

black and white headshot examples
With headshots, words and phrases and eye contact are more greatly important than ever. Do what you can certainly to develop a rapport within your subjects.

As the goal robust headshot is to make your question look as good as possible, so you have already reduced the effect of distracting elements, your favorite subject’s will be the and expression become more important than ever.  

Lighting for eyes will keep them gorgeous and prominent in the physique. Doing this also means you wil have to spend time processing its eyes, which might work well for any client’s requirements.  

Also, to get the best words, ensure that your subject is suitable and that you have a good rapport with them.

White or black headshots: (not) the end

On their own, headshot images and black and white photography actually are broad topics that are generally impossible to distill in any short list of tips. Still I do hope that these $ tips for black and white headshots will let you00 get started on your journey.

As always, nothing of these tips are rules, definitely guidance. If you feel that a specific program I said doesn’t match you and your preferences or your photography, that’s perfectly ok.

Now over to you:

Which of these black and white photograph of head tips did you like one? Do you have any tips for black and white headshot photography? Share your notions (and photos) in the commentary below!

Tips for better black and white headshots.

Can i shoot headshots in non colored documents mode?

If you’re shooting doing JPEG, no . But if might be shooting in RAW, you’re able to decide whether to fire in black and white or tono (you won’t lose nearly any image information in either mode).

Is black and white a reliable option for headshots?

Yes. Black or white allows you to strip down the knowledge in the photo to an key elements (in this case, the average person whose headshot it is).

What kind of light should I buy for headshots?

Any feathery light that flatters a person’s subject is a good choice.

How should I do black and white conversions because my headshot photography?

Try whatever method suits you together with workflow best. Photoshop coupled with Lightroom both offer interesting options for black and white conversions.

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John McIntire

John McIntire

is a portrait digital photographer currently living in the UK. The guy studied commercial photography they are always looking to improve. Undoubtedly a lighting nerd all the way through, John offers lighting courses and one-to-one tuition that photographers of all skill levels on the inside Yorkshire.

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