Color in photography is very powerful, but monochrome photography has a completely different appeal that can leave the viewer absolutely speechless. It can have a striking effect when done right, creating stunning reproductions of real life that cannot be seen with a naked eye.\

Monochrome photography is stylish, sophisticated and, most of all, timeless, which is precisely why it is considered a truly special art form. Because of its extraordinary power, a lot of famous photographers chose to work predominantly in black and white and create some really captivating monochrome photos; GuruShots created an incredible guide for this.

Here’s a list of the top photographers who were (or still are) masters in monochrome photography and left a huge mark on photography as we know it.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams was one of the most famous American photographers, known for his breathtaking black-and-white photographs of the American West. His love for nature inspired his landscape photographs, and his B&W approach created a dramatic effect that turned all his photos into art that has influenced generations.

Adams, together with Fred Archer, brought us the Zone System, which is a technique for creating the best film exposure and development. It is an approach to B&W darkroom photography for transferring light into formal measured densities to create optimal results when it comes to negatives and printing. This approach is still used today by contemporary photographers.

Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh was the most prominent American-Canadian photographer of the 20th century, known all around the world for his unique portraits of famous individuals. Churchill, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Khrushchev, Fidel Castro, Einstein, Salvador Dali, Hepburn, Bogart, Muhammad Ali, Hemingway, Shaw, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King and Queen Elizabeth II were only some of his famous subjects iconized in his timeless photographs.

His B&W approach to photography resulted in portraits with a mesmerizing solemn feel, as his understanding of light was quite unique. He always illuminated his subjects’ faces, quite often placing a huge importance on their hands as well, lighting them separately. It is precisely what brought him immortality.

Nick Brandt

Nick Brandt is an English photographer known for his stunning photographs of the African plains and wildlife. His amazing black-and-white photos memorialize the indescribable beauty of East Africa and all its wild animals.

Brandt has a unique skill to look into the very souls of his subjects and captivate their true essence. His B&W technique reveals their personality and spirit, impressing every single viewer and leaving them in a state of awe.

He uses medium-format black-and-white film without telephoto or zoom lenses, as he feels that the only way to truly capture the animals’ spirit is to get closer. It is exactly what results in breathtakingly beautiful photos with a unique sense of intimacy.

Xavi Fuentes

Xavi Fuentes is a Spanish photographer who is fascinated by the power of black and white in photography, which he harnesses to create extraordinary compositions that have remarkable minimalist perspectives of landscape. Inspired by the works of Ansel Adams, among other prominent photographers, Fuentes entered the world of B&W photography and set out to translate the abstraction and purity of black and white into his photos.

He once said that, for him, black and white “drives away reality, creating a new one”, which is precisely what you can see in his every photograph – a completely new reality like something from a dramatic novel.

His photos of the sea interrupted by concrete and rocks and shot at dawn and dusk take the viewer to another dimension, as he uses slow shutter speeds to make the water look smooth and blurry. It’s absolutely magical.

Ralph Gibson

Ralph Gibson is an American photographer celebrated for his surreal photographs that have a genuine mysterious undertone. Although he works in both color and black and white, he says that “there is more drama in black and white”. His minimalist style is instantly recognizable in his high-contrast B&W photos.

He is known for his unique visual signature created by contextualizing and juxtaposing his subjects to build a powerful narrative. When shooting stones, he makes them look alive, whereas he loves making flesh look like stone. That is exactly what makes his B&W photographs surreal, mysterious and dramatic.

Toni Frissell

Toni Frissell was an American photographer famous for black-and-white fashion photographs with a strong sense of realism and surrealism. Her legendary work is quite impressive and includes both informal portraits and those of notable people, such as Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy, to name just a few.

Her versatile photography demonstrated a level of clarity that just a handful of people could achieve in black-and-white photography, even today. Through uncommon perspectives, she created unembellished photos that screamed with spontaneity and imagination.

Sometimes the world really does look better in black and white. These and many other famous photographers have proved that, influencing generations with their remarkable innovative B&W techniques that transcend every single photo they created or keep creating.

They gifted to the world plenty of fascinating creations and inspired a huge number of photographers to make bold B&W images that leave the viewers at a loss for words, introducing them to a whole new world of art. If your passion is becoming a photographer, the first thing you need to have the best DSLR Cameras

Published by Arina Smith