The great photographer Robert Frank once said, “Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.”

They are powerful words, with more meaning behind them than I’ll attempt to dive into here, but what Mr. Frank doesn’t touch on here is just how much more difficult black-and-white photography can be when you’re doing it right—particularly in the realm of portraiture.

Much if not most of the black and white portraits you’re likely to run across online lack that certain something—that thing that makes black and white the right choice.

To put it another way: they’re color portraits displayed in black and white, not black and white portraits whose entire character and message would change if rendered in color. The 35 examples below fall into the second category. Each is better off for being capture in “the colors of photography.”

We hope these photos inspired you to try your hand at black and white portraiture. If you need more inspiration, give this link a click and have at it! And if you’ve got you’re own B&W shots you’d like to share with the community, upload to 500px and drop a link below.