Silhouette photography intro

Silhouette photos are very impressive, and they are getting more and more credits over time. Silhouette is an outline that looks dark against a light background.

More precisely, we can see a black shape only, but not the details on the subject. Needless to say, this type of photography is getting more and more attention. This probably happens because of the mystery it provides.

It is up to the viewer to imagine how the subject looks like, what is the subject’s emotion, and so on.

So, the story is not complete, but it is interesting enough to intrigue us.

Silhouette photography is easy


Silhouette photography made easy

At first, when you see a silhouette photo, you get the impression that you can make something so unique with a professional camera only.

Luckily, that is not true, and you can make this piece of art even with your smartphone! Of course, it doesn’t mean it’s easy, but if you have enough will to try it, you could become a real expert.

There are some basic rules and tricks if you are an amateur in this type of photography. You can make an excellent start with these pieces of advice, and that is, for sure, a good base for future improvement.


It’s all about light!

Silhouette photography its all about light

This is a fundamental basis for everything that follows. If you want to take good silhouette photos, you have to become a real expert in catching the right moment.

The main rule is pretty simple: there has to be a source of light in the background behind the subject. That way, the subject will be in the shadow and will remain dark, which is the point of this type of photography.

Natural light is most commonly used, but sunlight as itself is not enough to make a photo. As we already mentioned, it is about catching the right time of the day, when the sun is positioned right.

Sun should be low above the horizon, for example, during the sunset or sunrise. Also, winter days are sometimes an excellent choice. On the other side, if you’re taking pictures indoor, windows will provide you enough natural light. You can use lamps and spotlights as well.

Having the good lens for a low light situation is always a good idea, here are Nikon D5000 and Nikon D5200 buying guides to help you make the right choice.


Make sure to find the right subject!

Silhouette photography right subject

Choosing a subject is a little bit tricky because viewers won’t be able to see the subject’s facial impression, hair color, and other things they can see in standard photos.

Here, the only thing that matters is the outline, because that is everything people will see. A subject might be a person, an animal, trees, rocks, or anything else that comes to your mind.

Also, some unique statues could be a perfect choice! The best option is capturing people with trees, birds, and so on. You have a story to tell, so you have to come with an original idea.

If there are more people in the photo, make sure to make some space between them, otherwise, the outline will not be clear, and it will look kind of messy.

You can capture them doing ordinary, everyday things, or you can ask them to make some specific position.


Capture a movement!

Silhouette photography movement

A simple movement can make your photo much better, and that is why you should encourage your model to move.

Catching your model while jumping or making a pirouette will add to the dynamic of the photo. Capturing the movement is especially useful when shooting animals, birds, for example, because you’ll end up with some astonishing and wild scenes.

Another great thing is that you can easily do this with your phone, primarily if you have a burst mode. Photos that would usually look blurry will be perfectly clear while taking silhouette photography.


Get low!

Silhouette photography get low

Your model’s job will be much easier than in ordinary photoshoot because there is no paying attention to facial expression (nobody will see it).

On the other side, your job will be a little bit harder: finding the right angle will often require getting on your knees or even laying on the ground! But, of course, that won’t be a problem for you if you want a perfect picture, right?

Sometimes, getting dirty is part of the job (not glamorous at all, I know), but that is something you have to do if you want your background to look wide and your subject to look just the way it should look.

But, no matter how hard you try, sometimes you’ll need a little help from your model. Explain to them how to put their arms or legs, where to turn their head and things like that. Even one inch can make a huge difference between a bad photo and the perfect one!


Editing is not a sin!

Silhouette photography editing

Seriously, where did you get the idea that real photographers don’t edit their photos? Wherever you heard that – it’s a lie! No matter how good a photographer or a photo is, there is almost always a need to do little something – and we really mean A LITTLE.

Just to be clear, we are not talking about photoshop, but about small edits, like increasing contrast and saturation. That can make your photo much better, but don’t overdo it.

You want your photos to look natural, after all. Less is more and stick to that rule!

Last but not least, have fun while taking silhouette photos. You will need some time to figure out how everything works with this type of photography, but once you do, you will fall in love with it!

It is unique and specific, and it is a real art. As you know, there are no limits when it comes to art. So, if you use your creativity correctly, you can start making pieces of art sooner than you think.


In conclusion, you have a story to tell just with outlines, shadows, and lights. There is something very mysterious about silhouettes.

If you combine this type of photography with street photography, you will have a perfect combination! Just free your mind and use your imagination – the result might be mind-blowing!

Still, don’t forget to read our other articles such as Best lenses for Canon T7i or Best lenses for Nikon D810 to make sure you are using the proper camera equipment for best results.

How to shoot silhouette photography?
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How to shoot silhouette photography?
Learn what silhouette photography is and some simple tricks & tips that will bring your silhouette photography to a whole new level.
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