Shooting Black and White Portraits

Take your black-and-white portraiture skills to the next level.

In this portrait and beauty photography workshop, recorded LIVE, you’ll see the step-by-step process you need to light and shoot professional portrait and beauty images.

Starting at the very beginning, from choosing his background and selecting his props, professional photographer Karl Taylor shows how he achieves these stunning black-and-white portraits. Follow along as he develops an image from scratch and explains the thought process behind each creative decision.

Working with a variety of modifiers, Karl explains the effects, pros and cons of each while also demonstrating how to carefully control light to achieve dramatic movie-style images. With the help of his models, Dave and Evie, Karl demonstrates the effect of different shooting angles, light positions, reflectors, soft and hard light, and also teaches you how to combine different types of light in order to achieve the best possible results.

In this class:

  • How to take portrait and beauty photographs
  • Lighting modifiers and their effects
  • Effective modifiers for portrait and beauty photographers
  • The best lighting for male and female subjects
  • How to take black and white images
  • The inverse square law
  • How to control shadows
  • Working with and balancing multiple lights
  • Five lighting setups for portrait photography

If you enjoy this class, be sure to check out our Portrait section, where Karl covers the theory of light in greater detail and demonstrates multiple lighting setups for creative portraits.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

© Karl Taylor


  1. Vic Peralta

    Karl, I noticed that on some of the images there was banding around Evie. One example of this effect was at 1:58:28. This can be edited out in post, but can it be avoided?

    1. Hi Vic, there is no banding around Evie in the actual photo it just appears that way because there is banding from the video of the screen and then that being translated to online live video. In the real photo the banding doesn’t exist. However if you do have banding problems we have a number of ways to fix this in post that are covered in our Post Production section. Cheers Karl.

  2. These are really good courses if I have to look for work or do contract work. Many thanks for answering my questions. I will probably renew again next year to see what’s new and watch some courses over again. Kudo to your team and models also.

  3. BobShaw

    Hi Karl,
    Is the shooting black and white being done in Phocus (with a setting I can’t see) or in the camera please?

    1. Hi Bob, yes by turning the saturation down or BW mode on. You can do this in most software, you can also create your own preset profiles so that the images preload in BW when shooting tethered.

  4. One of the things I liked is that you weren’t prepared beforehand, and that showed us your thinking process and your problem solving process.
    The other thing is showing what is wrong (For example the wrong position, light, modifier). I personally learn no less from the “see how it’s done wrong” in life, than how it’s done right. Because it shows me how I can get out of the situation when it occurs.
    If possible, I would love if you could take these into consideration and add them to future live tutorials.

    1. Hi Sharon, on all live shooting shows I start from scratch so you should see the trials and tribulations along the way! Some live shows such as my recent motorbike one are so complex that I have to rehearse them otherwise the show would be 10 hours long but I still try to note the difficulties faced along the way.

  5. A real eye opener about how the shot can change just by careful positioning of the light shown at 1 hour 54 min 21 sec, which leads me to my question please Karl? I shoot with Canon 5D Mk3 and just bought a Windows laptop, what please would you suggest as the best tethered software to use please? Canon’s own EOS Utilites, Lightroom Classic (via the cloud Abobe CC) is there another Windows based one you would recommend?

  6. These are great videos’ but I have a poor internet speed living out in the countryside, so I lose my position and have to start again. Can you download these to watch at your leisure? , if so I can do this at work where the speed is really fast and watch them at home.

      1. An option to resume playback from the point you left off would be really helpful though. 🙂

        Thank you for the great content!

        1. Hi Vitlay, yes we agree but unfortunately we are restricted by the functionality of the video player from Vimeo, if they introduce that feature then we would of course use it. In the meantime we are working on ‘Bookmarks’ so members can bookmark their favourite content.

  7. Karl

    Love your tutorials
    Thank you so much
    One of the best Photography in the world

    Hope one day I can get to meet you in person

    Thank you so much

    1. Hi Ernesto, we are very glad to hear you are OK. The show is available on replay for 5 weeks if you’d like to catch up.

  8. Thanks Karl Thank you so much for the workshop ,
    the nose shadow in the first shoot of Ivy was not
    appealing or, in the whole picture very disturbing,
    of course thats my feeling may be I am wrong
    Thanks again

      1. Would love an option to register to live shows and get reminders, Also have the date on the live show replay page.

        1. Hi Sharon, you don’t need to register all members can watch the live shows. All the replays are ready to watch in the live shows section and the dates and times for all future live shows should be listed so just check the live shows section. Kind regards Karl.

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