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How to do Silhouette Photography

If you are thinking about starting silhouette photography but do not know where to start, we have you covered. Let’s be honest, silhouette photography may look pretty complex at first. But it becomes really simple once you understand the process behind it. So, read along to learn how to do silhouette photography and get amazing results. We will also discuss some basic Tips for Silhouette Photography.

Basics of Silhouette Photography

Before moving on to the process, it is important to understand what silhouette photography is. First of all, it is defined as a type of photography in which you shoot a scene and focus only on the outline of your main subject. Whereas the interior of the subject remains featureless and empty, in most cases, it remains black. The main goal of this photography is to evoke the emotions of mystery, drama, and mood within a single picture. The element of mystery is emphasized by the black silhouettes which leave the viewer to interpret the meaning of the image on their own. This article features tips for silhouette photography that will help you get stunning results, so let us get started. 

Look for a Unique Subject

An important point to understand while learning how to do silhouette photography is to choose a strong subject. The focus in this type of photography is the outline of the subject rather than their color, texture, and tones. Therefore, try to look for a subject that will be recognizable just by its outline. Of course, any subject can be made into a silhouette, however, the image will only have an impact if the viewers connect with the subject and understands it. An easy way to do this is by looking for a subject having distinct lines and shapes.

silhouette of a girl - How to do silhouette photography

Photo edited in Lightroom.

Keep your Subject Isolated

Now that you have selected the subject, you have to try to frame the image so that the subject does not merge with the background. Rather, it should stay as much isolated as possible. You can think of it in this way that you can neither count on a person’s expressions or their mood to add texture to the image. You only get a 2-dimensional figure, therefore, just focusing on the outline will result in better silhouettes. 

One of the most useful tips for silhouette photography is that if there is more than one subject, try not to overlap them but keep them separated.

Light is Key

The most important thing to consider while learning how to do silhouette photography is to get the light right. Unlike other types of photography where we are trying to evenly expose the image, in silhouette, our goal is to keep the main source of light behind the subject. For example, if you are shooting outdoors, keep the sun hidden behind the subject. Our cameras have less dynamic range than our eyes, they automatically put the subject in shadow and create a silhouette. 

Also, another important tip for silhouette photography is to never use flash as it brightens the subject.

Low Angle

An excellent way to work out the lights is to shoot from a low angle. When shooting outdoors, it becomes even easier if you plan your shoot at sunrise or sunset. The reason behind this is that at these times the sun is low above the horizon, so the direction of light can be positioned directly behind the subject.

When you shoot from a low angle, you get the ability to place unique backgrounds behind the subject while also hiding the light source.

silhouette photography of a couple

Partial Silhouette Photography

Another great tip for silhouette photography is to consider a partial silhouette. In some cases, adding a bit of color to the subjects can enhance the image quality exponentially.

For this purpose, you can use bracketing. It means that you need to shoot the same scene in different exposures so that you get plenty of different options to choose from. This will let you decide if the image looks better in partial or full silhouette.

Post-Process to Enhance Silhouette

The last step is to use post-processing to make your silhouettes stand out even more. The only thing that you need to keep in mind at this stage is to not use any slider or filter that softens the blacks or darkens the highlights. The best editing software that will surely allow you to unlock the full potential of any picture with it’s powerful tools is Photoshop.

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Conclusion - How to do Silhouette Photography

Well, you just learned how to do silhouette photography. However, to master it, you are going to put in more effort. Go out and try to practice often when the light is right.

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Have a nice photoshoot! 

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