Five Easy Composition Tips for Stunning Black and White Photography

Practice makes perfect, especially for black and white photography. Here are some quick tips to improve your composition today!

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: black and white photography isn’t as simple as using your camera’s monochrome mode. If only it were that easy! Because black and white photography has the inherent ability to make compositions stand out, working on your composition is one of the first few things you need to get started with. In today’s featured video tutorial, PHLEARN Founder Aaron Nace shares five quick composition tips to get better monochrome snaps.

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An Easy Way to Get That See-Through Frame Effect for Cool Portraits

Thinking of making your portraits extra cool or fun? Sure, you can use props and colors to jazz up your photos, but there are many other tricks to create interesting images. One of the techniques you can try today is a see-through frame effect. It’s incredibly simple and you only need a few things to achieve this cool look.

Aaron Nace of PHLEARN comes to the rescue again with a quick and easy video tutorial for this easy see-through frame effect. To get started, you only need your camera, a tripod, and an empty frame (a cheap one from the thrift store or antique shop will do). If you’ve got all of that ready, go ahead and see how it’s done below.

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Use Color Gels in Your Studio to Create Vibrant Portraits

Do you want to add a touch of color on your portraits? You can create a really cool effect with the help of a simple trick using color gels. If you haven’t worked with them before, knowing what they can do will allow you to confidently play around with moods through colors. If you already have some strobe lights and flashes, you’re already halfway there. Color gels are simply these thin plastic sheets in different colors that you can attach to your light source and flashes to change their color. How exactly do you use them in your shoot? The free tutorial below by PHLEARN will show you how.


PHLEARN founder Aaron Nace gives us a preview of a neon-themed photo shoot he did to demonstrate the effect these color gels can create for your portraits. For his setup, he used teal and magenta color gels on two Einstein flashes with Softboxes to give a fun and conceptual feel to his portraits. In some of the photos he shared, we see the two colors at work to light different spots on the model. It’s a great way to play with color combinations without worrying about creating a drastic effect such as with duochromes (if that’s too much for your or not the look you’re going for). In some shots, we see how working with one color gel creates a slightly monochrome look.

One of the few things we can maybe add from this is to make sure that the colors you choose complement each other (like teal and magenta in this example). This also worked great because they styled their model with white clothing and a light pink wig. So remember to keep the styling light or pastel-hued to make sure the colors really stand out.

Want to see the full tutorial? Head to the PHLEARN website to sign-up and purchase their Photo Editing 201 lessons.

Screenshot taken from the video

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Creating the Photograph: Aaron Nace of Phlearn’s, “Night Flight”


Editor’s Note: Creating the Photograph is a series that we’re starting where we interview photographers all about how they created an image. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com

Aaron Nace is one of the head honchos over at Phlearn: arguably one of the best photography learning website ever. Since seeing his video on how to do Terry Richardson’s lighting, I was hooked on the creative content they produce. It was by chance that I found his image, “Night Flight” on 500px. Knowing what the man is capable of, I was eager to know how he shot it.

Here’s his story. And if you’re interested check out more in our Creating the Photograph series.

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