Silhouette of person standing on rock

How to Photograph Silhouettes – The Best Tips You Can Use

As photographers, the one thing that we love a lot is experimenting with the pictures we take and more often than not, the experiments can turn into trademark styles for a lot of people. Just look at some of the famous photographers and you will realise how that is the case and honestly, if that is one thing that you actually are interested in, this certainly is something that you should look into. 

For instance, if you are wondering how to photograph silhouettes, it is better to understand that the process might not be that complicated but it still is a better thing to learn about it so you can master it the way you want to and that too, without any complications. So, let’s not waste more time and start looking at all the tips that you can use.

How to Photograph Silhouettes – Mastering the Art

Now, when it comes to photographing silhouettes, it is not really complicated but considering how you may have just started out, it can be a difficult ordeal for a lot of people and in this article, we are going to tell you just how to go ahead and do it. I know it might not be the most straightforward process but once we are done, you will have a lot of understanding as to how it can be done.

Silhouette of man

1. Carefully Choosing Your Subjects

The first thing that you should now about is that the choice of your subject has to be clear and honestly, it should not be something that complicates the process. You will find a lot of situations in which you might not know how to capture the subject but the more you pay attention the better it is. You are going to need a subject that looks strong in a picture, considering how you cannot have colors in the silhouettes, you will have to work with the surroundings. You can even use props in the background such as bikes, basketballs, or any sort that make the image looks better.

2. Flash is Not Your Friend

When you are taking picture of a silhouette, you have to realise that the flash is not your friend. Plus, the photography will mostly be done in dim light, and honestly, the subject twill also be dark. In such a darkened shot, you do not want to use the flash and ruin the picture because that will just mess things up and you should be avoiding it at all costs, and you should not do that. So, be sure that you avoid using flash.

3. Getting the Perfect Light

Now, the thing about silhouette photography is that the lighting does not work as it does in conventional photography. If you want to get the best shot, you would want to ensure that the subject is standing in front of the sun, or the sun is behind the subject. The light has to shine from the back of the subject and not the front. This will light up the background and the subject will be dark. The light does not directly have to be from the back, but as long as the background is all bright and lit, you are good to go.

Silhouette of person walking under white clouds

4. Let There be Some Negative Space

Another thing that you have to know is that when you are taking pictures of the silhouettes, you have to keep some negative space in the images because this is very important and you should never overlook this factor. Having some negative space in the images you are taking will create a separate between the subject and the background, allowing you to tell a story in your pictures. Not a lot of people understand the importance of negative space, but I believe that it is an absolutely important aspect that you should look into.

5. Shapes Need to be Separate

Considering how silhouette photography involves dealing with a lot of shapes, it should not come as a surprise that you might find yourself in a situation where one shape is overlapping with the other shape or vice versa. This is very common, and you must avoid that at all costs. For instance, if there is a car and a person in the same photo, the silhouettes must have the right amount of separation to avoid any confusion.

The moment you start noticing confusions in the picture where you cannot tell one thing apart from the other, you will be in trouble and the shots won’t look half as good.

6. Tinkering with the Exposure

Almost all the modern cameras that you see are excellent at exposing photos, this means that no matter the condition, you will always end up with a photo that looks bright and well lit. Except that is not what you are looking for, in the first place. You want your subject to be completely darkened and how do you sort that out?

Well, you have to set your camera to the right shooting mode, I would suggest Aperture Priority, and you can even try manual mode. Once that is done, you should go ahead and point the camera at the brightest part of the scene, press the shutter button halfway. This would result this in the exposure being locked, keep pressing the button and move the camera to the subject, frame the picture, and completely press the shutter button.

Doing so will result in the perfect picture that you have been trying to take and you will not have any issues in the way, either.

7. Experiment with Your Shots

Now, I know that in most of the cases, people would prefer taking pictures of people when they are capturing silhouettes, and while that does sound like an excellent idea, what if I tell you that you can actually experiment and expand your experience in photography? Well, I would suggest that you try photography aspects such as landscapes, nature, and other things, too. The point here is that when the subject is in a silhouette, it leaves a lot to the imagination, and more often than not, you end up with an excellent shot that you simply cannot do wrong.

8. Take a Lot of Pictures

We are almost done but this is something that I often tell everyone to do and this involves taking a lot of pictures when you are out and about. While I do understand that this could defeat the purpose but the reasoning I have is rather simple. By taking multiple pictures, you are able to create a collection that you can go through and find the ones that look good and discard the ones that don’t. It is it not complicated, so you can take your time and carefully plan this out.

photo of women

9. Always Edit Your Shots

Now, a lot of people have talked to me about how editing silhouette shots is not something that they want to do because “there is nothing to edit” but that is not true. For starters, always shoot in RAW, and then edit the photos to make sure that they look good and the subject that you have been trying to capture comes out. I know, it might sound difficult but in reality, it is a breeze and you will get something that you truly want without any issues whatsoever.

Frequently Asked Questions 

You can follow the tips that we have mentioned in this article and that will help you actually go ahead and take some stunning silhouette pictures.

You can manual settings or aperture priority settings if you are truly looking to get the best silhouette shots that you can imagine.

The principle behind that is the same, even if you are shooting at home, you have to be sure that the light source is behind the subject or on the sides of the subject and not in front of the subject.


There is no denying that silhouette photography is complicated and not for everyone but the thing that you must understand is that if you are trying to get the right type of pictures and you want to be sure that you are not messing things up, then this article is for you. I do understand that it can be complicated at first but the more you spend time perfecting it, the better would be and in time, you would be able to take the type of shots you actually want.

Just follow what we have suggested you and you will be all set in no time. This is something that you can take as a guarantee.

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