Monochrome Studio Portrait Setup & Tips

Black and white portraits can be very powerful when they feature bold shapes and a wide range of tones. But that depends on your knowledge of monochrome photography. The absence of color means your contrast has to be on point. A common mistake that many photographers make is not planning to shoot in monochrome beforehand. Just removing the colors in Photoshop won’t cut it. By planning to shoot in monochrome, you can make many decisions that will maximize the contrast in your photo. In today’s video, photographer Gavin Hoey from Adorama takes you through how you can visualize and plan for some breathtaking black and white portraits.

“If you’re going to shoot black and white portraits, the best you can do is to plan for that right now, ahead of the shoot.”

Hoey shares with you how he uses three different backgrounds to create three different looks using the same lighting setup. For high-contrast images, you can see that pure black and pure white backgrounds work very well. They emphasize the subject best. Conversely, as he demonstrates in the video, the beauty of using a grey background is its versatility. By varying the distance between the grey background and light, you can control easily control its look.

“When it comes to monochrome black and white images, don’t be afraid of the shadows.”

Black and white images should convey a certain mood, and shadows play a pivotal role in defining that. It is therefore very important that you pay attention to where and how you place your lights. Placing the light right in front of the subject gives a flat look to the image. But place it sideways and you’ll see the magic happen. And if the image demands, you can also use a kicker light to create a separation between the subject and the background.

Be sure to watch the complete video for some practical examples. You’ll see how easy it is to produce some mind-blowing black and white images by paying attention to some basics.

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