Do you want to take amazing black and white street photos–using only your iPhone? Black and white urban photography can be incredibly powerful. You just have to know what to do! Read on to discover 7 secrets for amazing black and white street photography.
1. Shoot During The Golden Hours For The Best iPhone Street Light
Great photography starts with great light.
So, to get great black and white street photography…
…you need to find some light that really blows people away.
You see, light can make or break a black and white photo.
If your shot has poor light, it just won’t work.
But if your shot has good light?
Then it can be amazing.
Notice how the light created a long shadow in the photo below. If the light had been different, I wouldn’t have captured such a powerful shot.
What counts as good light?
When it comes to black and white street photography, I recommend you only shoot during early morning and late afternoon.
(These are known as the golden hours.)
During these times, the sun is low on the horizon. The light is soft and pleasant.
So, here’s the bottom line:
Shoot during the golden hours. That’s when you’ll get the most stunning photos.
2. Use The Rule Of Thirds For Perfect Black And White Street Photography Compositions
How do you create gorgeous black and white compositions?
That is, how do you decide how to arrange the main elements in your photos?
Mastering composition might seem tough.
Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks you can use–tips that will immediately take your compositional abilities to the next level.
Here’s the first of the street photography composition tips:
Use the rule of thirds.
Now, the rule of thirds is quite simple. It states:
Find the main elements in your composition. And place these elements a third of the way into the frame.
Here’s a neat trick:
Your iPhone has a built-in rule of thirds grid to help you get your subject in the perfect position.
Notice how the person in the photo above falls along the right gridline. That’s because I followed the rule of thirds when composing my photo. I placed the person a third of the way into the frame.
To turn on the grid, simply open the Settings app, select Camera, then switch the Grid option to On.
And voila! Your iPhone camera screen will display a grid.
This is super useful for composing your street photography shots. I’d recommend you keep the grid on all the time.
That way, when you’re out shooting, you can reference the grid. And you can line it up with the main elements of your photos!
If you have a horizon in your photo, place it along the top or bottom gridline.
If you have a person in your photo, place them at the intersection of two gridlines.
But the rule of thirds isn’t the only compositional trick out there. Read on to find out another…
3. Look For Shapes, Lines, And Patterns For Eye-Catching Compositions
Here’s another composition tip for incredible black and white street photography:
These elements all look stunning in black and white photos. They make a bold statement that really catch the viewer’s eye.
Let’s take these elements one at a time:
First, you should look for obvious shapes. For instance, arches create clear ovals.
And windows are powerful squares–or sometimes even circles.
Second, you should look for lines.
Just look for poles, railings, and the edges of buildings. These will all make for great compositional elements.
Shadows also create amazing lines. I can’t emphasize this enough: Take advantage of shadows. Use them whenever you can.
Try composing your shot so that the lines lead from the foreground to the background.
This creates amazing depth, drawing the viewer’s eye into the photo.
Finally, look for patterns.
Now, patterns exist everywhere in the city. You just have to look carefully.
There are huge walls full of windows.
There are blocks with identical doors.
And you’ll often find interesting patterns in paving on the ground.
Once you’ve found a pattern, compose your photo to emphasize it.
Try filling the entire frame with the pattern. This will have an incredibly strong visual impact.
Using graphical urban design elements, such as shapes, lines, and patterns will blow the viewer away.
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4. Add A Single Person To Complete The Shot
When I do street photography, I almost always include one person.
Because a person acts as a focal point. A person gives the viewer something to focus on in the photo.
However, it’s important that you don’t have too many people in your photo. One person is perfect.
Because too many people will be distracting. The viewer won’t know where to look.
Here’s what you should do:
Start by finding a beautiful background.
The best backgrounds have lines, shapes, and patterns. Notice the geometry in the background below:
Then simply wait for a person to walk into the frame.
You might have to wait a bit for the perfect moment. But be patient. Someone will walk through eventually.
Now, here’s the key thing to remember:
You want to make sure the person is standing in the best place possible.
Use the rule of thirds for this. Place the person at the intersection of two gridlines. Or place them along one of the gridlines.
Notice how the person in the photo below stands along the left gridline.
If you can include a person in your shot, you’ll get the absolute best image possible.
People add so much to a street image.
It’s exactly what you want.
5. Find A High Vantage Point For The Most Unique Photos
If you want truly unique black and white photography, then you’re going to need to change things up a bit.
You’re going to need to capture black and white pictures that nobody else has thought of–which is a tall order.
But here’s a great way of taking unique photos:
Find a high vantage point.
And then shoot downward.
A high vantage point could be a bridge, a cliff, or a window. Just find a place that lets you look out at the scene in an unusual way.
Look at the photo above. Without my high vantage point, this shot would be boring.
But, by finding a high vantage point, I took an extremely unusual photo.
High vantage points work best when the shadows are long and heavy.
So you should definitely wait until the golden hours before trying this.
Remember, a high vantage point really can take your images to the next level.
6. Shoot In Black And White To Master The Medium
If you want to master black and white street photography…
…then I recommend you shoot in black and white.
That is, your iPhone screen should show the image in black and white (rather than color).
I shoot in black and white all the time.
Because shooting black and white helps you see the world without color.
You’ll start to notice what contrasts with what. And you’ll notice how you can take incredible photos in black and white.
Here’s the good news: Your iPhone has a handy filter that lets you photograph in black and white.
Simply tap the filter icon (three overlapping circles) in the built-in Camera app.
Then scroll to the three black and white filters, and choose whichever is to your liking.
Now, you’ll be able to take black and white photos–in real time.
After taking the shot, you can always remove the filter and convert the photo back to a color image if you like.
But shooting in black and white will really give you a head-start.
7. Return To The Same Place Repeatedly For The Best Shots
Powerful street photography is all about good light.
But the light actually changes…
…on a day-to-day basis.
So, when you find a location you like, don’t just shoot it once and then leave.
Instead, think about how the location might change over time.
What would the location look like under an evening sun? What would the location look like in the winter or in the rain?
If you return to the same location, over and over again, you’ll start to notice unique photogenic qualities about that location.
You’ll become intimately familiar with it.
And you’ll take unbelievable photos over and over again.