black and white portrait

What to Look for When Editing Photos: Black and White Portrait Photo Retouching Tips

For decades, photographers have been using black and white portrait photos to show off the depth of their composition, skill, and mastery of the craft. By using this medium, photographers can capture their portrait subject in a raw manner that’s both striking and evocative.

A black and white portrait photo may seem easy to do but, it’s actually very hard to execute. In this type of portrait photography, your subject is the focal point of the photo and there are no colors that can distract the viewer from the subject. These photos may look perfect, but you should remember that it undergoes a retouching process aimed at eliminating imperfections, enhancing contrast, and smoothening textures.

In this article, we’ve listed some of the best black and white portrait photo retouching techniques that’ll have you editing monochromatic pictures like a pro. Are you ready to kick your black and white photos up a notch? Then, read on.

The challenges of retouching black and white portraits

Usually, when you go through a portrait photo retouching guide, it doesn’t tackle the nuances of monochromatic photography. Using colored retouching techniques on black and white photos will also not yield the same results that you’re aiming for.

In black and white portrait retouching, there are no colors to guide your edits. There is only light and darkness, which you’ll need to balance to emphasize the right areas of the photo. Editing this type of photo can be very easy to overdo because inexperienced editors may retouch the image so much that it looks unnatural and harsh.

Indeed, even professional photo retouching service providers take extra care in treating these photos because one wrong move can ruin the photo’s balance. So, don’t feel bad if you don’t come up with a photo that you like right off the bat, editing monochromatic images is challenging and you’ll need to hone your retouching skills continuously to come up with a photo you like.

Black and white portrait photo retouching tips

black and white photography

Black and white portrait photos are a great way to showcase your subject’s features and emotions. Using a variety of retouching techniques, monochromatic photos can elicit strong emotions from your viewers. However, retouching black and white photos may be challenging, which is why we’ve listed down some tips to help you get started on your retouching journey.

With a little practice, you can put out visually appealing photos in no time.


Professional portrait retouching services know that when it comes to monochromatic photos, contrast is the most important factor. Contrast is what ensures that your photo has a range of tones from light to dark. Adding too little can result in a flat photo, adding too much can make your photo look harsh.

Using the contrast slider on your editing software, you can adjust the contrast of your photos according to your liking. You can experiment with this slider and see where the sweet spot is for your photo. Once you’ve found a level that you like, you can move on to the texture of your photo.


Adding texture to your photo can make your photo more dynamic and make it more interesting. The texture of your photo can be adjusted by adjusting the grain and sharpness of the image. It’s recommended that you use a light touch when adjusting these settings because too much and your photo may look unnatural.

You may also use a brush to touch up certain parts of the photo according to your liking. Zooming into the photo can help you target small areas that require special attention.

Artistic impact

Once you’ve adjusted your black and white portrait photo’s contrast and texture, you’ll see how it can be more impactful to your audience. Notice how the expression of your subject becomes more pronounced and how negative space aids in directing your viewer’s attention to your subject.

By adjusting the brightness, contrast, and shadow slider on your software, you can enhance the artistic impact of your portrait photo.

Another practice that professional portrait retouching services execute is cropping and straightening photos. By using these techniques, professionals can put their subject front and center of the image.

Becoming an expert in retouching black and white portrait photos

black and white photography

We hope that you picked up some tips on how to retouch black and white and white portrait photos. We’re sure that with enough practice, you’ll develop your style and your practice. Just don’t forget to put your work out there and ask for feedback about how you can improve.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to improve your photo editing services, you can look through our blog and immerse yourself in a new photography topic.

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