Instagram may seem like it’s all about bright colors and popping ad campaigns, but the Instagram black and white movement has other ideas. The Instagram black and white movement has faded away from the spotlight in recent years, but it’s far from dead. Keep reading to find out what Instagram black and white is, and how you can get started with your very own account. 

A History of Instagram Black And White

Instagram black and white started as a direct contrast to the overly-filtered, artsy photos many of us posted on Instagram in the heyday of 2012-2014. In contrast, Instagram black and white photos were considered more eye-catching. A break from the overly saturated, grainy photos that Instagrammers usually put up, Instagram black and white got to showcase composition and artistic style more than filters. The Instagram black and white soon turned into a full movement, with users going so far as to make their entire Instagram themed black and white. Even today, you can find photographers who post exclusively black and white photos on Instagram. 

The Fading Use Of Filters

As Instagram evolves further into a marketing and sales channel, those of us who use Instagram as a simple social network have found that the use of filters is on the decline. As more and more people turn to influencer hood, there’s more pressure to make photos stand out. Sorry, Crema, you’re just not going to cut it. 

This is no different with Instagram black and white. Although Instagram offers the use of two black and white filters, they haven’t been part of Instagram black and white aesthetics for a long time. 

How to Start Your Own Black And White Account 

If you want to start your own Instagram black and white account, here are a few things to take into consideration. Instagram black and white is a veritable movement; it’s not just as simple as slapping a filter on your photos. (You can use filters if you want, though. We won’t judge you.)

Instagram black and white is all about capturing shadows and light. That means to make your account really stand out you’ve got to think about your photos before you take them. Some things that really stand out with Instagram black and white are landscapes and abstract visions of urban scenes. The best black and white accounts create another picture out of something you’ve looked at only one way before, presenting a different angle. 

15 Black And White Instagram Accounts To Follow

If you need some inspiration, check out these 15 black and white Instagram accounts: 

  1. BW Photomag

Black and White Photo Mag aggregates the best monochrome content from other creators, and they post some seriously cool pictures. They’re definitely responsible for keeping the black and white aesthetic alive. 

A screenshot of BW photomag's feed, displaying Instagram black and white photographs.

2. @Jasonmpeterson

Jason Peterson’s high angle cityscapes will make your head spin – but they’ll do it in black and white. His work totally encapsulates shadow and light, the very sort of pensive mood black and white Instagram photos should inspire. I have no idea how he’s gotten up to some of those places on his Instagram (it was before consumer drones were a thing!), but I’m not complaining. He’s the chief Creative Officer of Havas. It’s safe to say he knows what he’s doing! 

3. Akihito Nagata (Abu888)

This Japanese photographer Akihito Nagata’s unique viewpoint prioritizes interesting compositions and architectures. His images are sharp contrast, and often feature human subjects to contrast the sharp lines of the architecture. He got hooked on black-and-white photography because of Instagram, too!

4. Mr007 

Another Japan-based photographer, Masaki Kai, takes Instagram black and white to moving subjects. He occasionally works in color, too, but whatever he does, it’s bound to captivate your eye. He doesn’t shy away from humans and likes to play with light framing people’s faces or movements. 

Mr007's black and white photo showing the way light and mirrors interact

5. Ayakovlevcom

The Moscow-based dance photographer Alexander Yakovlev capture stunning images of dancers, many of them from Moscow’s world-renowned Bolshoi Theater, and it’s well-worth checking out his feed. The grace and composition of the shots are breathtaking. He manages to capture the dancers’ strength and elegance all at once. 

6. Wk.ai

Kai’s images have recently become a bit more colorful (and we do mean a bit) but he offers a minimalist approach to the monochrome aesthetic. Not all of Kai’s posts are sharp-lined pieces of photography. Instead he focuses on simple moments whose beauty is put on display. 

7. David Yarrow 

The British conservationist is well-known for his amazing wildlife snapshots. The beauty of the planet is on full display on David’s account. But that’s not just it – he also offers long captions sharing insights into whatever amazing creature he’s showing off that day. 

8. Michael Kenna 

Michael Kenna’s landscapes are truly something else. He travels around the globe capturing the magnificence of the Earth, and the monochrome somehow only makes his photos more appealing. The unique perspective he applies makes your eye focus on something you might not otherwise catch. 

9. Jl_saez

Jose Luis Saez is a Spanish architect whose Instagram black and white feed captures the contrast between small people and huge buildings. His images create a sense of isolation. His work is also notable because he still shoots only on his iPhone!

10. Simon Chaudoir 

Simon Chaudoir is one of those photographers whose work focuses on composition more than color, and it ends us up in a surreal but entertaining place. The staging of his photos makes for posts that are always unfolding on one another. The lack of color makes you look at all the details he chooses to include and contemplate the elaborate structures. You could spend hours on his feed.

One of Simon Chaudoir's black and white photos

11. Wejude

Wejude focuses on elaborate patterns that present themselves in architecture. The black and white photos show how incredibly detailed architectural patterns can be! And that people really like cubes.

12. @Jayscale

Photographer Jamal Burger’s photos feel like reading an old magazine. He focuses on scenes from urban life and all his photos have an old-time-y feel to them, like you’re watching history in the making.

13. Nazaret Sanchez

Nazaret’s photos aren’t just works of art, they also show off her eye for landscapes and composition. She captures a lot of simple moments featuring people against vast landscapes, reminding us of the true beauty of the world.

A black and white photo from nazaret sanchez's Instagram

14. Thorben Ecke

This black and white photographer focuses on cityscapes. He often shoots people moving through significant architectural places, capturing the juxtaposition of life and stillness perfectly.

15. Xiao Han

This one is cheating a little. While the Shanghai-based photographer doesn’t technically shoot in all black and white, there’s little enough color in the photos that we’ve made an exception.  Xiao Han posts a lot of minimalist photos of impressive architecture, with creative framing and occasionally juxtaposition against a living model. And when he does work with color, it’s divine.

Black and White is Alive

Black and white may have taken a bit of a back seat to the stylized campaigns of today, but it’s still going strong. If you want to start your very own monochrome account, don’t be discouraged! There is a huge community waiting to help you with open arms.

And if you don’t want to start your own account but just want some vintage inspiration, the black and white accounts listed above are sure to keep your feed looking cool and vintage for the foreseeable future.