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If you’ve been following Smashing Magazine for a while, you know that almost all posts from the Monday Inspiration series are pretty colorful and eye-catching. This post is an exception. Compared to colorful designs where catchy colors help the design to stand out, in black-and-white designs the ability to stand out depends only on its ability to communicate rather than on its appealing visual presentation.

Indeed, beautiful black and white photography doesn’t attract with its play of colors. Here close attention to composition, lighting, perspective and the context it is shot in are important. Hence, before considering the photos presented below please prepare some patience and time. This post presents some truly excellent examples of beautiful black-and-white photography.

Notice: this post isn’t supposed to showcase the best black-and-white-photos of world’s best photographers; please see it as a modest attempt to inspire designers for experimenting with black and white instead of using a variety of vibrant colors all the time. Hopefully, everybody will find something interesting and unusual for herself or himself.


  1. Toni Frissell
    In her legendary photos Toni Frissell impresses with a strong trend toward surrealism or realism. The photo presented below, although in black and white, is both extremely sharp and clear. To achieve such level of clarity in black and white is extremely hard.
  2. Alin Ciortea
    Alin Ciortea presents examples of modern street photography. In black and white, of course.
  3. Birds
    Unfortunately, the photographer is unknown. The photo seems to be taken at exact the right moment from exactly the right angle with a perfect lighting. Black and white can be powerful as well.
  4. Sally Mann
    This photo, titled Candy Cigarette, not just displays something, it tells a story. It is both emotional and beautiful. This is what the originality of black-and-white-photography is all about.
  5. Larry Towell
    This shot was taken in El Salvador. Child with star mask during “Day Of The Dead”. Other child in background rolls tire for repair in garage where he works at an adult’s job. The photo is full of tiredness and stubbornness. Simple motif conveying strong emotions.
  6. Aneta Kowalczyk
    Aneta Kowalczyk specializes in portrait photography. Some of her photos are provoking, some are strange and some are extremely beautiful. The example below displays the beautiful side of black and white photography.
  7. Nick Brandt
    Nick Brandt is a renown animal photographer which has become famous with his book of photographs, “On This Earth”, which was published in October 2005.
  8. Gary Winogrand
    Taking a shot just at the right moment.
  9. Larry Louie
    Woman Of Tibet. Realism at its best. Awarded with International Photography Awards in 2007.
  10. Gabriele Caretti
    Tour Eiffel: extraordinary contrast and perspective. Strong, clean and very precise shot.
  11. Ghost Town Charm
    Excellent lighting.
  12. Ansel Adams
    One of the most famous contemporary black and white photographers. Classic!
  13. Maurizio Polese
    Polese’s works pay close attention to small, tiny details. The tones are perfects and compositions are beautiful which is why the photos are presented in this post. Notice the sharp contrast and the lighting at the first image below and the sharp pathway leading to the light in the second one.
  14. Top 10 Wired.com Reader Black-and-White Photos
    Ten extraordinary black and white photographs sent to the Wired.com editorial by its readers.
  15. Michele Clement
    Artistic yet beautiful and extremely powerful shot. Michele Clement is the winner of Black & White Spider Awards 2007 in category “Outstanding Achievement”.
  16. Snyder Alison
    This photo has been taken in South Crillon Glacier, Washburn.
  17. Abbas
    Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami on the hills surrounding the captital, where his film “Taste of Cherry”, which was co-awarded the Golden Palm in Cannes 1997, was shot.
  18. Patrick Figaj
  19. Jack Radcliffe
    Alison’s life in black and white photos. The significance of these pictures emerges in retrospect. “When my daughter Alison was born, in the tradition of a new parent, I began to photograph her, initially in a separate and private body of work. However, in the process of documenting Alison’s growth, I developed a passionate interest in human relationships and capturing intimate moments in the lives of family and friends.”
  20. Arndt Laude
    Alignment. Sometiems all it takes is to be at the right place in the right moment and take a shot under the right angle. That’s what happened here.
  21. Ralph Gibson
    Staircase is an example of Gibson’s high-contrast, minimalist black and white compositions have influenced a generation of photographers. By isolating the essential elements of a scene, his pictures show a style that is unique and immediately recognizable. [via]
  22. Elliott Erwitt
    Erwitt, an advertising and journalistic photographer known for his black and white candid shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings — the master of the “indecisive moment”.
  23. Roy Mckeown
    Snowy Sheep.
  24. Adam Hinton
  25. Van Shnooken Raggen
    Two Warehouses.
  26. Rodney Smith
    Rodney Smith has his own understanding of professional black-and-white-photography. Unusual, abstract and surrealistic works.
  27. Drole Deciel
  28. Shazeen Samad
    Simple yet excellent composition. This photo manages not just to show something, but to capture a moment of life in all its beauty and vividness.
  29. Scott Bush
    Berk-plage – France. What a sky! A really strange squadron: octopussy, teddy bear and skates.
  30. Pedro Meyer
    Pedro Meyer shows the life of people across the globe. This photo was taken in Rio De Janeiro.
  31. Mitch Dobrowner
    Mitch Dobrowner is famous due to his Earth photos.
  32. Robertino Nikolic
    lighting plays with geometry. Or geometry plays with lighting? The winner of the Black & White Spider Awards 2007.
  33. Matthias Just
  34. Unknown
    Capturing the right moment at the right point of time.
  35. Bert (Quasebart)
    Perfect timing, perfect lighting. A dreamy shot.
  36. Hughes Leglise-Bataille
    That’s a quite unusual perspective for a photograph.
  37. Santosh Korthiwada
    “No peeping please!” Very powerful, emotional and somehow sad photo.
  38. Rui Palha
    Rui Palha photographs simple people in simple situations. Result: extraordinary photos of simple things surrounding our life.
  39. Watanabe
  40. Lauren
    Two Tree Hill. The composition looks very surreal, yet powerful and beautiful.
  41. G. Diaz Deleon
    Ventana XIV. Geometric minimalism at its best.
  42. Maurizio Polese
    Escape. Unusual angle, unusual perspective.
  43. Jana Stolzer
  44. Vega Omer
    Struggling to survive.
  45. Ezra Caldwell
    Dog snout. Sometimes the moments from our life are the most valuable moments we should enjoy and keep in mind.
  46. Crossing Lines
  47. Classics in Lego
    An illustrative summary of iconic pictures with their pairs of Balakov’s Lego figure pictures which are reconstucting famous moments in the history of mankind.
  48. Mark Daniel Owen
    I heart you. Do you see what we see?