Back when dark rooms were necessary, I loved spending time in one. Black and white photography can be so beautiful. Of course now anyone can turn out a great black and white photo with a little photo editing. There are a few secrets to success, however, just like with color photography. Here are a few things to look for.
Light. As with any photo, you want good lighting. This is especially true for black and white because without good lighting you can't naturally have white whites and black blacks. You'll have a fairly gray photo. That's okay, if you're looking for that effect, but I'm not a huge fan of a photo that lacks an absolute white and black. I'm sure photoshop or picnik.com or some other editing software can help you on the back end but try for good light to begin with. That means open the windows or get outside. Overcast days are the best. That's a bummer if you live in Colorado but for the rest of us they aren't that tough to come by.
Composition. What's in front of and behind your subject? Take a look around. I love a photo with great lines and texture.
Process, but not too much. Don't go nuts editing your photos. If you take a good one in the first place it won't need that much editing. Crop if you must and tinker ever so slightly with the contrast. You should have a range of grays and a true white and black somewhere in the photo (in my opinion).
Mostly, just have fun. They're for your memories so don't worry if yours don't look as good as the next guy's.
This one is my favorite. Check out You Capture for more black and white photos.