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Photo Contest Insider Blog

10 Breathtaking Black and White Portraits You Have to See

November 7, 2016

There’s just something about black and white portraits which take your breath away, whether it’s the stark contrast between light and dark, or even the way in which they brilliantly capture the emotions of their subject. Either way, we’re hooked!

In order to both celebrate and explore this medium, we’ve chosen to share 10 black and white portraits with you which we find most fascinating. From women and men, to children, all of these portraits have many things in common: they capture your gaze and leave you feeling mesmerized.

Dmitry Trishin

Dmitry Trishin’s portrait of a woman

This softly-focused and sensuous portrait by 500px user Dmitry Trishin had us in awe from the get-go. Perhaps it’s the allure of her eyes, the beautiful pattern of the lace, or even the way in which the sun gently emanates through the window to illuminate her face. It’s certainly not hard to see why almost 1.5K people have loved the photo on the platform so far.

Elena Bovo

Elena Bovo’s portrait of a baby

This baby might be a very new arrival into this world, but no viewer can deny the way that those eyes seem to hold the whole world within them. It’s a look of wisdom beyond the infant’s years, as well as an overwhelming curiosity to further explore the intricacies of this planet. We think this stunning portrait by Elena Bovo is one to be truly admired and can imagine a number of photographers specializing in infant portraits wanting to use it as inspiration in their next photo shoot.

Wild Priest

‘Rebecca’ by Wild Priest

With over 50,000 views already, this black and white portrait of a young woman named Rebecca by Flickr user Wild Priest is certainly proving to be popular. Some comments have even stated that they would love to see it on the cover of an issue of National Geographic! This photographer has a number of amazing portraits amongst his gallery, but this one by far would have to be our favorite.

Emerald Shatto

‘Trevor’ by Emerald Shatto

We love the story behind this captivating portrait by Emerald Shatto, so we’ll let the photographer do the talking:

I spotted this boy when I took a walk to a nearby waterfall with some of my artist friends. He was swimming in the pool at the base of the waterfall. “May I take your portrait?” I asked. “Sure!” he said. I focused, held the camera down at water-level, and clicked the shutter. “Want to see it?” “All right.” I showed it to him and he smiled. “What’s your name?” “Trevor.” “I’m Emerald. Thanks so much!” We shook hands and he ran off.


‘Three Pounds’ by Staf Saghiri

This enthralling portrait is by Flickr user Staf Saghiri who is a London-based travel, street and portrait photographer. With the title ‘Three Pounds’, one can only guess at this man’s identity and agenda. Is he homeless, as the blanket draped around him and visible toothbrush might suggest? The best portraits often leave you wondering about their subjects, so on that note, Staf has done an excellent job at capturing this image.


‘Cantinflas en la Puerta del Sol’ by Pepoexpress

Captured in Puerta del Sol, Madrid, this quirky portrait by Flickr user Pepoexpress captures a fun but slightly eerie presence. Mimes are often perceived as funny and entertaining, but those brooding, dark clouds in this portrait might suggest otherwise!


‘Eyes Can Tell Stories’ by Brenda Waworga Photoworks

Did you know that this popular photographer is self-taught? Brenda Waworga’s incredible portraits have been mesmerizing us for a while now and this one titled ‘Eyes Can Tell Stories’ is no exception. We love the natural pose, combined with those eyes that seem to sparkle and stare right through you at the same time.

Dorothea Lange

‘Migrant Mother’ by Dorothea Lange

It just wouldn’t be a round-up of the most breathtaking black and white portraits without this historical beauty among them. Dorothea Lange is well-known for capturing this alluring yet heart-breaking portrait of a migrant mother and her young children, all dangerously close to the brink of starvation while living in a pea-pickers camp. Thankfully, this image brought about important change, and as a result of it being published, the government rushed a shipment of 20,000 lbs. of food to the camp.


‘Siberian Stories’ by Daria Pitak

Daria Pitak is very famous for her awe-inspiring portraits – both in color and black and white. This is one of our personal favorites, featuring a close-up portrait from her ‘Siberian Stories’ series. Those freckles, captivating gaze, and the composition of the photo all make it a very memorable image.


Portrait of a boy by JLphoto2013

We recently discovered this portrait of young boy by Flickr user JLphoto2013 and it instantly wowed us for its combination of stark contrast, innocence and the boy’s gaze – it is as though he is searching for a sign or answer from the heavens.

Those were our recommendations for the 10 breathtaking black and white portraits you have to see. We hope these will provide you with further inspiration for your own portrait photography. 

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