In the simplest terms, silhouette photography features a dark subject photographed against a bright background. This effect is created by displaying a strong contrast between the foreground and the background of the image. Because the contrast is so strong, there are few – if any – details visible in the subject.
Silhouettes create truly engaging photographs. Since the viewer is unable to see the details of the subject, they are left to fill in the gaps themselves and imagine what is missing in the photograph and the story that is being told. This allows each person to have a unique interpretation of the photograph.
So how do you take a silhouette photograph? Keep reading for some tips on how to create your best silhouette photographs yet!
Find a Bright Light Source
To create a silhouette effect, you will need to place your subject in front of a bright light source. The best source is, of course, the sun! In order to get the best lighting for your silhouette, shoot at either sunrise or sunset, as the sun will be low enough in the sky that you can place it directly behind your subject and create the strong contrast needed for your silhouette.
You don’t have to shoot outside in order to create a silhouette though. If you are shooting indoors, place your subject directly in front of a doorway or a window you can create a gorgeous photo!
Expose for the Sky
In most photos, you want to balance the exposure so that you can see all the details in the subject and the rest of the photo. In a silhouette, you want to expose for the background so that the background is bright and the subject is dark.
Composition is Vital
When shooting in high contrast, there is a greater emphasis on the composition and leading lines of a photograph. Arrange the image so that the lines are pointing to the subject and there is nothing behind the subject that distracts from the outline. Make sure you keep the rule of thirds in mind when composing your photographs!
It is also important that you choose a strong subject. You should choose something that has a distinctive form and interesting lines so that it stands out against the bright background and creates an interesting photo. For example, if your subject is a person, having them stand up and run or jump in the frame will create more distinctive shape. In addition, if you have multiple people in the frame, have some separation between them so they don’t merge together on one blob of a silhouette.
Enhance the Silhouette in Post-Processing
If the contrast between your subject and the background isn’t strong enough, you can enhance it in post-processing. The best way to do this is to increase the blacks, shadows, clarity, and contrast in the photo.
With these tips, you can be sure you’ll take your silhouettes to the next level! The most important tip, though, is: be creative! Play around with different compositions, different backgrounds, taking photograph indoors and outdoors, and anything else you can think of. As long as you have a strong light source and interesting subject, you are all set!