A silhouette is a photograph where a dark figure or shape is against a light background. More specifically, it is where your subject is seen as a black shape without detail against a brighter background. These kinds of images look interesting and convey drama, mystery, emotion and different moods to those viewing it. This is what makes silhouette pictures unique. With just a black shape, there are many stories and emotions to tell. Some can even take silhouette pictures accidentally. But it would be a different story if you try to take a picture of an image’s silhouette purposely.

It would really be fulfilling for a photographer or for those aiming to become one when he could take great silhouette photos and convey a distinct message through it. So, if you want to take a stunning silhouette photo with much drama, you can take a look at our tips below. When done rightly, silhouette photography can create extremely impressive photos that can even encourage others to take one of their own. So, read on for our simple tips to have more dramatic silhouette photography.

1. Backlight your subject.

Backlight your subject
Image: Ivan Makarov

One of the easiest ways to have a silhouette photo is by taking a picture with the sun at the back. Let your subject stand in front of the sun with its light towards the back of the subject. You can do that during sunrise or sunset where the light is at its best.

2. Do not use flash.

Do not use flash
Image: Brad Colbow

You will not be able to get a silhouette shot with your flash on. So, operate your camera manually and turn off the flash. Using a flash could make the subject bright because it will use the popup flash for “fill-in” flash. You should take an image with the least light on the front of the subject.

3. Try indoor silhouette photography.

Try indoor silhouette photography
Image: Tanakawho

You can also take a silhouette image when you are indoors. You can do that by using natural light from windows like a stained glass. You can also apply backlighting by having a bright light behind the subject. It doesn’t necessarily come from the sun. It could also be an artificial light.

4. Take silhouette photos during the night.

Take silhouette photos during the night
Image: [ changó ]

If you think that you can only get good silhouette pictures during the day or during golden hours, you are wrong. Even during the night, a good silhouette image can be taken. It can even give a more dramatic output with some excellent colors. You can do that with a bonfire or an artificial light.

5. Fill the frame.

Fill the frame
Image: Joaquim Simoes

You will get a good image if you frame it well. Let it capture a good foreground and background to add more drama to your image. You have to get a bright background to give emphasis to your silhouette subject. Add more appeal to your iamge by choosing elements to include in the shot.

6. Look for unique shapes.

Look for unique shapes
Image: Kazimkuyucu

Your silhouettes rely much on the shape of your subject. Hence, look for subjects that have unique and distinct shapes, lines and curves. But see to it that your silhouette can be easily recognized. Your picture will fail if other will not be able to determine what your subject is.

7. Use natural frames.

Use natural frames
Image: Personal Project

When we speak of natural frames, it refers to elements that are existing near your subject. You do not create it. It is really there. These are windows, archways, tree canopies and others. It will make your picture look a lot better with a great impact.

8. Include shadows.

Include shadows
Image: Tulgay

Look for shadows for they look great paired with your silhouette. So, aside from searching for great silhouettes, check out if it can give you a good shadow, too. It will convey a better story and will make your picture look a lot better.

9. Use manual focus.

Use manual focus
Image: Bkiwik

You can get a sharp focus by setting your camera to manual focus. Your camera will have a problem focusing if it is set to automatic. You can also get a large depth of field if you set your aperture at f16 to get a focus of the entire area.

10. Keep it simple.

Keep it simple
Image: Cogito Ergo Doleo

A silhouette photo is more effective if it is done simply. Look for a simpler subject which is recognisable even if the silhouette is only seen. You can notice that most silhouette photos do not have many details on it and are merely focused on the subject.

It’s Your Turn Now

What makes your image more interesting is how you compose it. So, aside from the above tips in taking silhouette photos, you should not forget to take note of photography composition which is very important in whatever type of photography you are trying to venture at. With the tips above, may you get a great silhouette photos. Would you like to share your images to us in addition to our showcase above? Or you might want to add some tips aside from those stated. Feel free to do that.

Ebrian Acebedo

About the author: A Licensed Medical Practitioner who apparently likes web design and business.