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Photographer Ian Shaver Shares Best B&W Photo Apps for the iPhone

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effective black and white photography. Many of Shaver’s clients – from bridal parties to individuals – request black and white photography in their packages. They understand that the power of a black and white composition can make a truly amazing impact on a photograph.

As Shaver recently discussed, “I find that the emotional aspect of a photo is much better conveyed through black and white photography.”

Most professionals maintain a high level of competence when it comes to black and white photography. But for a typical consumer, is there any hope for getting a great black and white shot?

The truth is that worthwhile black and white photography doesn’t come by simply stripping away color from normal pictures. There are important aspects to how light interacts within black and white photos to give them a compositional impact.

Believe it or not, you can actually get a decent method for snapping great B&W pics right from your iPhone or Android device. A recent TechHive article outlined several different apps that specialize in black and white photography using your little smartphone. And the results are actually pretty impressive – once you know what you’re doing.

As the article described, “Before digital replaced film as the photo medium of choice, color and monochrome shared the limelight. Today, if you want to channel your inner Ansel Adams with your own moody wide-angle vistas, specialty black and white apps are the path to achieving your monochromatic vision.”

The post outlined several great apps for people interested in black and white photography on their smartphones. Below, several of the best apps are outlined.


This easy-to-navigate iOS-based app quickly turns your iPhone into a digital powerhouse machine for black and white. The app is custom-built to emphasize producing high quality images (in .jpg or .tiff format) that take advantage of what monochrome is all about.

The app prides itself on providing tools that help make your shots really shine. However, this app may not be the best choice for rapid-fire point and shoot style photography sessions. The app is available for $3.00, and most hobbyists say it’s a great value for what you’re getting.

Simply B&W

If you’re an iOS user on a budget, fear not – you have black and white options that are much more budget friendly. Case-in-point: the free to download Simply B&W app for the iPhone. Simply B&W is a great tool because of its simplicity and fairly impressive number of options. You can either take straight black and white shots with the app or convert old color shots into B&W.

The app has a big emphasis on how to properly frame your shots. This showcases the simple compositional premise of photography. Sometimes, the framing can make-or-break a black and white style shot. It also offers several color filters like a real camera to give you more control over getting just the right photo.

The Big One – Lenka

Mike Butcher of TechCrunch recently spoke at-length about the newest and hottest iPhone B&W app to hit the market – Lenka. Lenka brings top-of-the-line image production with streamlined simplicity. The app has a powerful built-in image processor to really make your pics shine.

What distinguishes this app from others in the iOS market, according to Butcher, is the subtlety it can draw out in photography. As he wrote, “…when you fire up Lenka you immediately realize that it’s capable of much more subtle grays and textures than most normal camera apps. There is a feeling of quality and simplicity about it.”

For many critics, this app outshines all the rest because it eases the process of high quality B&Ws with its built-in features. Setting up the technical aspects of shots takes much more time on other apps. With Lenka, most of the technical stuff is automatic. That gives you the best possible lighting and filtering so that you can focus on the subject, composition, and other aspects of your pictures.

Even professional photographers like Ian Shaver recommend Lenka. As Shaver recently mentioned, “I am in love with the Lenka app. It keeps things simple in our complex world. You have to depend on your eye to make great shots. It strips photography down to the basics.”

The $2.99 price tag makes Lenka a direct competitor in the black and white market. In many cases its price tag is actually less than similar apps. For anyone interested in B&W photography on the iPhone, this is a great way to dig right in and get excellent results.

Getting Back to Basics

Speaking of ‘getting to the basics,’ apps are great for providing simple methods to achieve worthwhile results. In the end, however, photography is very much an art form – and it should be understood that way. The best pictures don’t come through technical competence or a great app. Instead, they come from having the right eye to see a great shot – and taking it.

“So many apps on the market for photography do a million things,” photographer Ian Shaver explained. “However, sometimes when it comes to creating great art, simplicity is key and black and white photography keeps things simple.”

This point – simplicity – is precisely what Shaver and most other photography professionals say you really need to continually produce stunning shots.

Harvey Greer contributed to this post.