Black and White Studio Model Portraits Tutorial

Black and white portraiture has its own special place when it comes to portrait photography. These images are pure and honest in their own way. But by stripping away colors, you as a photographer will need to pay greater attention to how you’re lighting your subject, along with your models’ expressions and the story you want to present. In today’s video, professional portrait photographer Nathan Elson takes us through the process of taking a meaningful black and white portrait in a studio:

Elson starts off by taking us through the lighting setup he uses to light the subject and the background. He also shares his camera setup and settings used as a starting point. One quick tip: ensure the background is pure white. This helps a lot in drawing the attention toward the subject.

For editing, he uses Capture One with one of his own styles to start. If you’re a Lightroom user, you can use your favorite black and white preset instead, or get your hands dirty and go from scratch. Head on over to the Hue Saturation Luminance (HSL) panel to play around with saturation and luminance to get different kinds of black and white images.

To fine tune his frames, Elson brings his image over to Photoshop. He starts off by getting rid of any stray hairs from the subject’s face and clearing the subject’s eyes. As you can see in the video, Elson spends most of his time with the dodge and burn tools. Using this tool, he can blend details, manipulate light and shadows and add definition to his subject. His editing style is quite simple, yet very effective. If you’re looking to improve your black and white portrait photography, we highly recommend you go through the complete video.

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