Black and white photography is certainly my favorite medium of art. It completely embodies everything I want my photography to represent. Its timeless, sophisticated, artistic and when done well, just screams professional photography. The pro's call it monochromatic and in the old days, in the time of the *real* pro's it was all they had to choose from!
The old pro's got the secret real fast! Great black and white images come from images that are perfectly lit! That's it. They didn't have photoshop or screen preview. They had light. Great lighting makes a great black and white. If you can find a space that has even soft light you can take a perfect black and white.
I wish it were that easy! Light can be the hardest element to master. Thankfully cameras are smarter than we are and can help. No matter what camera you have, if the flash pops up on its own, its a clear indicator that you should move to an area with brighter light. If you can't see the sparkle in your subject's eye, again time to move. Look for areas that have blurry edge shadows instead of sharp ones. Window light is always your best bet. The photo above is window light. Windows act like light tunnels or funnels that help to direct light in a certain direction. Be careful though not to block the window light with your own body while taking a picture! Put your subject in front of the window and then step to the side.
Do comment or post your own pictures if you find this helpful or have more questions. Happy snapping! -Jill