Color photography is fun but it can at times also be distracting. The simplicity offered in monochrome is an easy way to strip down a scene to its essence, to focus on the lines, shapes, and composition of a photograph, without being sidetracked by bold hues. In its first year, the winning selection of the Black and White Photo Award celebrates the majesty of monochrome.

Related: Best black and white film

About the Black & White Photo Award

The inaugural Black and White Photo Award set out to discover the best B&W photographers, including professionals and amateurs alike. Participants can submit their images to five categories: Architecture, Street, Portraiture, Fauna and Flora, and Landscape. 

Prizes are awarded by a jury composed of Joel Tjintjelaar, a B&W fine-art photographer, educator, and photography software designer; Julia Anna Gospodarou, International Photography Awards Professional Architecture Photographer of the Year; and Charles Paul Azzopardi, president of the Malta Institute of Professional Photography. Additionally, an assistant jury of professional photographers representing Haida and NCJ Media Solutions helped the panel in choose the winners. 

The overall winner is the recipient of €1000 (USD $995); category winners receive €100 (USD $100). There is also a prize for creativity, which pays €200 (USD $199), and the Haida Special Award, whose prize is a Haida filter kit. Here are the victors—plus a few of our favorite picks.

Related: You should develop your own black and white film. Here’s how

Overall winner

black and white photo award cheetah with cubs
“Cheetah with cubs.” Johan Willems

Johan Willems claimed the top prize with a majestic photo of a cheetah presiding over her brood. The fluffy, scraggly little pack is nearly obscured by the tall grasses as mom stands on lookout duty. 

Special Prize for Creativity

black and white photo award dancers motion blur
“Levitate.” Dusty Cooper

In Levitate, Dusty Cooper snags the Special Prize for Creativity. A long exposure and strategic lighting create a ghostly, ephemeral photo that feels like a dream. 


black and white photo award architecture
“A light at the end of the tunnel.” Hector Ballester

Geometry, light, and shadow marry beautifully here. Hector Ballester punctuates the scene with the barely perceptible human element in the distance. 


black and white photo award eid
“Patterns of Eid.” Saurabh Sirohiya

Saurabh Sirohiya offers a unique perspective of worshippers gathering for the celebration of an important holiday in Islam. 


black and white photo award abstract portrait
“Pattern.” Kazutoshi Kawakami

Portrait winner Kazutoshi Kawakami offers up an abstract interpretation of the traditional portrait that feels like something Man Ray might have been into. 

Fauna & flora

black and white photo award devil ray
“Mobulas in the Mediterranean Sea.” Enric Adrian Gener

In the absence of color, Enric Adrian Gener allows us to appreciate the beautiful lines created by a group of devil rays as they travel through the sea. 


black and white photo award sand dune
Sea of sand.” Vasilis Livanos

Vasilis Livanos conveys the vastness, emptiness, and loneliness of the wilderness. 

Haida Special Award

black and white photo award marsh reflection
“Echoing spaces.” George Digalakis

George Digalakis took home the Haida Special Award for this serene shot. The gentle, glittering reflection adds a little drama to an overcast day. 

A few of our favorites 

Wrong way

black and white photo award street photography
“Ramble and roam.” Michael Duckworth

Feel the irony here. A group of people walking in the opposite direction of the pointing arrow that frames them. 


black and white photo award giraffes
“Posado de girafas.” Ricardo Tormo Massignani

If giraffes could sing, this would be a strong contender for the mixtape cover. 

Look up

black and white photo award architecture
“Waves.” Antonio Figueras Barranco

Architecture photography done well, what can we say? The intense curvature of the structure seamlessly guides the eye through the frame. 

How to enter

All photographers over the age of 18 can submit an unlimited number of images. The photos must be B&W, and both film and digital are accepted mediums. A fee of €15 (USD $15) allows up to five pictures per category. The deadline to participate is June 15; see the website for updated information.