Silhouette Photography


Like we know, Silhouette refers to the outline or dark shape of something or someone visible in confined light against a very bright background, hence, silhouette photography captures the shadow casted by a darker object or person compared to that of a relatively brighter background. The greatest way to do this is to shoot during the beginning or end of the day when the sun is beneath the horizon or just on the verge of rising/setting.

Photography by Dylan M Howell.

The best ways to photograph silhouettes are:

  • Choosing a strong subject – Almost all subjects can be made into a silhouette, however something strong and having a recognizable shape must be chosen which will be appealing enough in its dimensional form to hold the interest of those viewing your captured image. Since silhouettes cannot recognize colors, tones, textures and proximity of the subject, the shape of the chosen object ought to be vivid.
  • Turning off the flash – Turning off the flash is very important as flashes ruin the quality of the silhouette, all you require is a little light on the front of your subject thereby, removing the flash.
  • Getting the light correctly – When lighting  of the subject is considered, you need to exclude certain principles of usual photography and think out of the box because in silhouette photography, you need a shining background and thus, avoid the foreground brightness. Therefore, the ideal place for shooting your pictures is during sunrise or sunset.
  • Framing the image – Framing your shot is equally necessary as you are shooting it in a nice plain or surface with a bright background. It is best recommended to position the brightest source of light behind your subject so that they hide it or remains somewhere in the background.
  • Making silhouetted shapes distinct – Try to separate your images if you intend to capture silhouettes of them simultaneously, also during framing you will definitely want to photograph silhouettes of people instead of looking straight on thereby, making their facial features outlined and recognizable.
  • Auto Mode – Since modern cameras sense quickly how to expose a photograph in order to check that everything is well lit, they will light up your subject rather than underexposing it. Thus, it is essential to point your camera at the brightest portion of your picture and then press the shutter half way down without letting it go, and then by moving your camera to frame the shot along with the subject, the image gets captured.
  • Manual Mode – In case this technique is inefficient and your camera has enough control over manual exposure, you might try new settings; the beauty of digital is that it keeps experimenting till the end of all shoots to your heart’s content. The most convenient way to start using manual mode is to observe the shutter speed and aperture that it recommends in automatic mode.
  • Focusing – Maximizing the depth of field by use of aperture enhances the quality and focusing power of silhouette images.

The beauty of silhouettes is unique, happy capturing!