hand black and white

5 Creative Black and White Photography Assignment Ideas


Dear friend,

Something I believe in:

If you seek more happiness, joy and personal meaning in life … photography is a great road.

Thus the question then becomes:

What are the practical or meaningful strategies I can employ in order to maximize my photography?

A simple thought:

Black and white photography as augmenting your creative optionality, as it gives you MORE opportunities and MORE avenues to express and outpress yourself creatively.

After a small walk, here are some quick ideas I got for you:

  1. Shadows: Shadows as one of the simplest but most effective things to photograph. Your own shadow, the shadow of objects, either at night or day. As a simple composition tip: only photograph the shadow (not the main subject) for a more artistic image.
  2. Blur: Image ‘disfluency’ means the viewer cannot 100% ascertain what he/she is looking at. This means when you make blurry photos, they are more interesting to look at because they are abstract, and not 100% certain. To REMOVE certainty from images is the goal. Thus when you’re shooting, intentionally try to blur the photos. You can do this by walking and shooting, moving your camera and shooting, etc.
  3. Night shooting: The day is typically when we shoot, but assuming you got a busy job or whatever, shoot more at night. The joy of shooting monochrome is that the HIGH-ISO noise/grain at night isn’t a disadvantage — often it is an advantage. Blurry, gritty, or even out of focus night photos are interesting to look at. Just crank up your ISO to 1600, 3200 or 6400+ … and just shoot at night. Also shooting around the block at night (after dinner) is a good activity.
  4. Black and white video: In order to become the uber-photographer, you gotta shoot both video and photo. Video is just moving photos. Try to convert your camera into monochrome mode, and just shoot short video clips of things you find interesting. Upload them to YouTube, then embed them to your website/blog.
  5. Exposure-compensation is painting: A thought and realization I had when shooting high contrast black and white photos (by increasing exposure compensation or decreasing exposure-compensation): it is painting. Why? When you decrease the exposure compensation, you paint the image as more black. When you increase the exposure compensation, you splash on visual white paint onto your images. So the simple idea is when you find an interesting thing to photograph (even a stream of light), experiment shooting many different exposure compensation variations of it; 0 exposure compensation, +1 exposure compensation, +2 exposure compensation, +3 exposure compensation and -1 exposure compensation, -2 exposure compensation, and -3 exposure compensation. Compare and contrast all the photos for fun.

As with your best monochrome photos, upload to arsbeta.com or your own website/blog.

Monochrome masters to study

From the masters:

  1. Gabriel Cualladó
  3. MAN RAY

Discover all the masters here or pickup a limited-edition red-foil printed distilled version of MASTERS in the HAPTIC PRESS SHOP HERE. You can also pick up a version of MASTERS VOLUME 1 (Mobile Edition) here.



  1. Monochrome by KIM

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