Before and after: converting to black and white

Some images strictly call for color, and some you can’t imagine in anything but black and white!

The kind of black and white depends on you and your style as a photographer. I like to call my black and whites, “Clean with Depth.”

I rarely create a deep, moody black and white, I like my images to be light, airy, but with contrast. You’ll also see a different side of the coin when I create black and whites with a matte overlay in the video below.

When deciding if an image should become a black and white, here’s three things to consider:

1.  Dimension

Since you’re only working with basically two colors, black and white (and also all shades of gray!) you need things in the photo to draw the eye in. Creating depth of field between the subject and the background is important. You want the subject to stand out, and not get lost in the grey mud mush.

before and after photo with good tonal range processed into black and white by Amy Schuff

2.  Light

A properly exposed image will always edit better as a black and white. If you find yourself constantly “saving” images by making them black and white, then it is time to reevaluate how you and your camera see light together.

before and after of well lit picture converted to black and white by Amy Schuff

3.  The “cool” factor

Yes, I did just say “cool,” it’s one of my words! There are some images that will just look plain ole’ cool as a black and white! I love colorful sun flare, but sometimes that sun flare would look amazing as a bright white burst of light. When I took this photo of my kids jumping, with their shadows beneath them, I knew that it would just have to be made into black and white!

before and after of cool photo converted to black and white by Amy Schuff

In the video tutorial, I will show you how I edit an image from color to black and white in Photoshop. Let me know if you have any questions! Thank you!


About the Author:

Amy Schuff is a devoted wife, a homeschooling mom of three very cool kids, and a lifestyle family photographer in the Sacramento, CA area. Often toting her camera and just one or two lenses to a session, she believes that each family has a story to tell about their love and the way they find joy in each other. Amy also loves to write, go on nature walks with her kids, dates with her husband and throw the ball to her dog, which of course he will never learn to bring back.


  1. Tara Dec 12 2014 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    I love the images you converted here. I think the difference in the dog picture is amazing. Thanks for sharing these tips and tricks.

  2. Reuben Dec 19 2014 at 7:52 am - Reply

    Thanks! Imformative video

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