What Makes a Black and White Photograph an Art Print? Part 1

What are the elements in a black and white photograph that make it an art print? There are numerous aspects to a shot that elevate it from just a photograph to an art print. I’ve decided to focus on three elements in part 1 and then three more in part 2.

The three elements I want to address are:

1.   Composition

2.   Depth

3.   Lines and Details

Using an art print “The Back of a Carriage” from my Black and White Photography 2 Collection as an example, lets take a look at each of those elements.


Simply put, the composition of a picture is the subject matter and the way you have displayed it in the picture. The subject matter could be numerous objects or a single object. How have you “composed” the picture to create a visual story. Looking at the example, this a singular subject and they way I composed the shot focuses in on the back part of an old carriage. In this case the composition is very specific and intentional to an area of the carriage.


The depth of a shot is important because it allows your eye to see additional dimensions and keeps the subject matter from being flat. Depth should allow the eye to see past the focal point, but pull back to it naturally. With the featured art print, you get a sense of depth as your eye looks past the back wheels to the front wheels which are slightly out of focus and then beyond to the street and the walkway across the street which are blurred. Your eye naturally comes back to the portion of the shot that is in focus.

Lines and Detail

I look for strong lines and intriguing details that I know will be highlighted by the black and white tones. The strong lines are the most obvious in this example as the back of the seat, leaf spring, axle and wheels are very defined shapes. An example of intriguing details would be a landscape where leaves on a tree are lost in a color version, but pop out in black and white. Losing the strong colors allows the shades of gray to bring out detail.

In the featured art print, “The Back of a Carriage” has a unique composition that immediately creates a story and pulls the eye in with interest. The depth keeps the interest as the eye scans the print and comes back to the focal point. The lines of the subject stand out as darker grays and pulls the visual immediately to the subject matter. The details within those lines add a level of interest as you explore them. Instead of being a flat, monotone, uninteresting photograph, you have an art print ready for framing and display.


I invite you to come into the gallery to view the new additions to the collection in the Black and White Gallery 2.

Please visit my main gallery: TheWallGallery (All domestic orders over $60.00 – free shipping!)

Follow my work:

Facebook: TheWallGallery by Kirt Tisdale. (Page likes are always appreciated!)

Google+: TheWallGallery

Twitter: KirtWallGallery



11 thoughts on “What Makes a Black and White Photograph an Art Print? Part 1

    1. Kirt D Tisdale Post author

      I’m moved by your kind words. Thank you and yes I have allowed my photos to be used in blogs as long as proper credit and a link to my gallery is done. if I can be of help, more than happy to assist. Thank you again!


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