Tips & Tricks

Monochrome vs Black & White

By Abby Schreiber

You may have heard these terms used interchangeably: “monochrome” and “black & white.” The truth is, they’re not synonyms! Although a monochrome image can be black & white, that’s not always the case.

So, what’s the difference?

A standard photo uses different amounts of color to create an image. With monochrome photos, different amounts of light are dispersed rather than color. Monochrome photography uses only a single color to display those variations in light, creating a range of tones.

Because of that, black & white photos can look like monochrome if the color used is black. But they could also be any color - blue, purple, green - you name it!

With black & white photos, you’re using the two opposite ends of the spectrum - absolute black to absolute white - to complete an image. A more accurate term for this style is “greyscale.” Most black & white images aren’t true black & white images (containing only those two high-contrast colors). Instead, they make up a spectrum of grey.

The more you know!

A photo of a mountain in Black & White.

That same photo in Monochrome.

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