What Makes a Black and White Photograph an Art Print? Part 2

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 focused on three elements in part 1 – composition, depth and lines / details. In part 2, I want to look at:

1.   Lighting

2.   Perspective

3.   Contrast and tones


Airplane Nose

Airplane Nose

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


The lighting in any photograph is important, but in a black and white it becomes critical. How the light illuminates the subject determines the way the gray tones are going to be seen. This creates depth and form. Simple shadings will change the presentation of the subject. In the example notice the reflective quality of the lighting. In this case, it accents the shining metal of the plane’s body and also creates the shape of the nose.


The perspective of the photograph is the angle or the viewpoint with which the photograph is taken. The perspective changes everything. In the example, my perspective is slightly  angled from the front of the plane. I’m not looking straight on or horizontally. This creates a more interesting shot, leads to depth and finally composition of the shot. You want your perspective to tell a story and create interest.

Contrast and Tones

In a color photograph, you are dependent on color to tell a story. With the elimination of that, you are dependent on the contrast and tones to create the subject. In the example, you have strong contrast around the engines and propellers. The body of the plane is displayed well due to the tones. The tones build the nose of the aircraft with the bright metal and rivets.

All of these elements work together to create a black and white art print. With all of this in place, it still ultimately depends on the viewer. Does the print pull you into the picture and tell a story. Does it stir interest in you visually. If it does, whether you like the subject matter or not, then the photographer has created an art print.


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!)

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