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Black and White Child Photography: Timeless Art of Monochrome

Black and white child photography

Photography for me is more than just capturing moments; it’s about preserving memories, especially of my son, Nikita.

While I enjoy taking portraits, there’s a unique charm in converting Nikita’s candid shots into black and white. These monochrome images are not just photos; they are a ticket to relive his childhood, for both of us.

Ted Grant beautifully expressed, “When you photograph people in color you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.”

While colorful pictures have their own beauty, I always keep both versions. With tools like Lightroom, this transformation is seamless. Join me on this journey through the timeless realm of black-and-white child photography.

Why Capture Child Portraits in Black and White?

Black and white photos have a special feeling that color pictures just can’t match. So, why is it that taking pictures of children in black and white feels so special?

Black and white photo of my son, Nikita. Monochrome baby portrait photo.
  • Emotion Shows More: Kids show their feelings openly. Without colors to distract us, we can really see these feelings in black-and-white photos. Whether it’s happiness, thinking deeply, or just being playful, these emotions become the main focus.
  • They Last Forever: Black and white photos of kids feel like they can last forever. Even many years later, they still bring back strong feelings, as if the picture was taken just a short time ago.
  • Seeing Small Things: Without color, we notice the small things more – like how a child’s hair curls, the shine in their eyes, or the softness of their skin. These little things help tell the story of their childhood.
  • Creative Pictures: Taking photos in black and white lets you be more creative. The play of light and dark becomes more clear, helping photographers make pictures that have a lot of feeling and mood.
  • Showing Differences: Being a child means having a lot of ups and downs. Black and white pictures, with their clear differences between light and dark, help show these big changes that make childhood special.

Taking pictures of my son, Nikita, in black and white has let me see moments that are deep and special. Sometimes, colors can hide these moments, but in black and white, they really stand out. 

I think every parent or photographer should try taking pictures of children in black and white. It’s like seeing the world in a way that’s simple but full of feeling.

Practical Tips and Techniques for Black and White Child Photography

Taking pictures in black and white is more than just removing color. Especially when you’re capturing the special moments of a child’s life, it’s about highlighting emotion, details, and memories. Here are some simple tips to help you get started:

Black and white baby portrait. Photo of my son Nikita.
  • Use Good Lighting: Lighting is key. For clear and detailed photos, try to use natural light. If you’re inside, take pictures near windows or doors. If you’re outside, cloudy days or early morning light works best.
  • Capture Real Moments: Kids are great when they’re just being themselves. Instead of asking them to pose, let them play, laugh, or even cry. These natural moments make the best black-and-white photos.
  • Play with Shadows: Black and white photos show shadows really well. Look for places where light and shadow meet. This can give your photos a dramatic and moody feel.
  • Use Simple Backgrounds: Too much detail in the background can distract from the main focus – the child. Try to find simple and plain backgrounds to make your child stand out.
  • Edit with Care: When turning a color photo into black and white, use tools like Lightroom. Adjust the brightness, contrast, and shadows to make the picture just right.
  • Focus on the Eyes: The eyes tell a lot about how a person feels. When taking close-ups, make sure the eyes are sharp and clear. They can be the most powerful part of your photo.

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How to Turn Your Child’s Color Photo into Monochrome in Adobe Lightroom?

Monochrome child photo

Converting your child’s color photo into a black-and-white photo in Lightroom is actually quite simple. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Import and select your child’s photo in Adobe Lightroom.
  2. Click on the “Develop” tab at the top navigation bar.
  3. In the “Basic” panel on the right side of the screen under the “Treatment” section click Black & White.
  4. That’s it, your photo has now been converted into a monochrome photo.
Screenshot showing how to convert photo to a black and white photo in Lightroom

Please note, that there’s one more way you can turn your child’s photo into a black-and-white photo in Adobe Lightroom by using existing B&W presets:

  1. Select your child’s photo in Adobe Lightroom.
  2. Click on the “Develop” tab at the top navigation bar.
  3. On the left side of the screen, click on a white triangle next to the “Presets” to expand the list of different presets.
  4. Scroll down the list of presets and click on the white triangle next to the “B&W” heading.
  5. Select one of the black-and-white presets from the list and apply it to the photo by clicking on the title of a preset.
Screenshot showing how to convert a photo to monochrome in Lightroom

The Importance of Keeping Both Color and Black & White Versions

When capturing special moments, especially of our children, every photo holds a unique story. Many times, I’ve taken a picture and later debated whether to keep it in color or turn it into black and white. Through my experiences, I’ve realized the value of keeping both versions. Here’s why:

  • Different Emotions: A color photo shows the world as it truly is – vibrant and full of life. It’s a snapshot of reality. On the other hand, black and white photos have a way of highlighting feelings and moods. By having both, you capture the complete essence of the moment.
  • Versatility: Depending on where and how you want to use the photo, one version might be more suitable than the other. For instance, a color photo might be perfect for a birthday card, while the black and white version stands out in a photo album.
  • Back-up: In the digital age, having multiple versions ensures that if something happens to one version (like an editing mistake), you still have another intact version to fall back on.
  • Artistic Expression: While the color photo captures the moment as it was, the black and white version allows for more creative expression. You can play with contrasts, highlights, and shadows to give the photo a unique touch.
black and white portrait photo of a kid with reflection in the glass

In the end, each version – color and black & white – serves its own purpose. They’re like two sides of the same coin. By keeping both, you ensure that the memory is preserved in its fullest, most authentic form.

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How to Save Color and Monochrome Versions of Your Child’s Photos in Lightroom

You can maintain both color and monochrome versions of your child’s photo using the “Snapshots” panel in Adobe Lightroom. Here’s how to do it:

  1. After editing the color version of your child’s photo in Lightroom, navigate to the “Snapshots” panel located on the left side of the screen.
  2. Click on the “Plus” icon next to the “Snapshots” heading.
  3. In the pop-up window, enter a descriptive name representing the current version of the photo. For instance, you might use “Color version” or “Original”.
  4. Click the “Create” button.
  5. That’s all! You’ve successfully saved the current version of the photo, including all of its edits. Now, you can create an alternative version of your photo (e.g., monochrome or applying other presets/adjustments). Rest assured, you can always revert to your saved photo version by selecting the desired title under the “Snapshots” section.
snapshots in adobe lightroom

Please note: You can create multiple versions of your photo edits and switch between them by clicking on the saved titles under the “Snapshots” heading

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Conclusion

Photography is a magical bridge between the past and present, especially when we capture the fleeting moments of childhood. Whether it’s in vibrant color or soulful black and white, each photograph of our children tells a story, evokes an emotion, and freezes a moment in time. Through tools like Adobe Lightroom, we have the unique ability to explore both these worlds.

By keeping both color and monochrome versions, we don’t just preserve memories; we add layers to them. Each version offers a different perspective, a different feeling. As parents, photographers, or simply lovers of memories, it’s a joy to see our child’s life unfold in such rich detail. So the next time you snap a picture of a cherished moment, consider the beauty of both color and black & white. 

If you’ve found this blog post insightful, don’t miss out on more tips and techniques. Dive deeper into the world of child photography by exploring my other articles in the Child Photography category.

P.S. If you are just thinking of learning photography to capture beautiful family photos and photos of you child, I recommend you to check out the following article in which I talk about 8 reasons why every new parent needs to learn photography.

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Aleksandrs Karevs

Aleksandrs Karevs

Hi, my name is Aleksandrs and I am a full-stack digital marketer passionate about digital photography. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V. Read full story here.

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Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

ARTICLE BY

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

Disclosure: OHMYCAMERA.com is a participant in several affiliate programs and may be compensated for referring traffic and business to companies from affiliate programs at no additional cost to you.

Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

ARTICLE BY

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

Disclosure: OHMYCAMERA.com is a participant in several affiliate programs and may be compensated for referring traffic and business to companies from affiliate programs at no additional cost to you.

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