Should Headshots Be Black & White Or Color?

As if selecting the message you want to convey in your headshot isn’t confusing enough, you also have the choice of using a color vs black & white headshot. How should you choose?

Why use Black & White?

Really, most businesses use color portraits for their headshots. They feel natural, and make a good connection with your audience. They’re easy for web designers to work with.

Sometimes there is a design decision, a style choice, so that a business will choose to use a black & white headshot. Your designer will be able to articulate why it is the right choice.

Other times, businesses use Black & White simply for historical reasons or in an attempt to make differing portraits seem to match each other.

We’re sometimes asked whether we provide Headshot Photography in color or monochrome.

What do Headshot Photographers provide?

Simply put, the camera sensor captures in color. We edit your photographs in color, because that’s the most effective way to clean blemishes and make you look your best.

We can provide your portraits in color or B&W. Or we can do both for a small fee.

Why is there a fee? As you know lots of software can automatically convert your color photograph to B&W. If that is what you need, then you can actually do it yourself and we recommend you take delivery in color so that you have the option to change in the future.

How do you convert to Black & White?

There are many ways to convert photographs from color to B&W. Most editing software can do it automatically, simply by taking all the color out, leaving behind the brightness. It’s simple, however it means a shade of green, red, and blue of the same brightness can be converted to the same grey.

If you ask us to do the conversion, then we do it by hand based on the individual photograph. We make sure different elements in the photograph stay distinct and separate.

Depending on the colors and scenery of where you are in Sydney, you can create some very different looks.

Comparison of color and B&W headshots outside

Above you can see an example of an outdoors color business portrait, next to an automated conversion to B&W. The conversion makes his skin look a bit dark, even though we are outdoors in the middle of the day.

Then you can see three different ways we have manually converted the same photograph to B&W. We keep the skin tone more realistic, and have controlled the suit and background separately depending on the purpose of the headshot.

Converting Executive Portraits

An Executive Portrait session usually involves a series of looks. Each look may be targeted at a different audience, with a different feel and message being conveyed. The way you convert to monochrome can also be adjusted to match those goals.

Here is part of an office Executive Portrait session. The background is a similar brightness to parts of the skin, so an automated conversion becomes quite muddled and unappealing.

Because the background is a consistent color, we can actually manipulate that in various ways to make the person stand out.

Comparison of color and B&W headshots in office


Auto-software can convert your color headshots to B&W, however you may not always get usable results. In these cases it leaves the person’s face a little dark by default despite both being Caucasian skin. The machine simply does not know what each object is, and its purpose.

If you know you want a portrait in Black & White, then you’ll get superior results with a manual custom conversion.

Executive Images helps you look amazing at your Branding Photography session at our Coogee studio. We help you connect with your audience, in a strong, professional way. Contact us now and let us help you make your best first impression.

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