In classes and conferences, I’m often asked about settings for making black and white portraits. The question goes something like this, “I’m sure it’s different for every picture, but can you tell us how to make black and whites?”

The answer is, “Yes, and, actually, it’s not different for every picture.” I use the same settings as the launchpad for every black and white I make in Lightroom. Feel free to copy them from these screen captures.

These settings are intended to mimic using a red filter when shooting black and white film. They brighten the skin tones and practically eliminate the variance you usually see in the skin in color photos. This makes retouching a lot easier.

Additionally, these settings also remove the distraction of color and let your subject view themselves much more simply, and possibly more truly.

I use these settings every time I make a black and white in Lightroom Classic. If I change it, the first thing I change is to turn off the Tone Curve settings. If necessary, make other contrast adjustments in the Basic tab. Add a gentle vignette and pretty soon you’ll be finishing great black and white portraits.

If I’m really serious about making a great black and white version of a portrait, I’d use Luminar to finish it.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.