Silhouette photography is a beautiful and artistic form of photography that can either be done with inanimate or human subjects. Silhouette photography can be the perfect way to add variety and emotion to a portrait shoot, whether it’s family portraits, couples portraits or an individual portrait. Silhouettes can be incredibly evocative, as they convey beauty, drama and mystery to the viewer. If you’re curious about how to take a silhouette photo, here are 10 easy tips to create one.
1. Shoot towards the light
The basic principle behind creating a silhouette photo is shooting towards the light. When you shoot with the sun behind the subjects, it will be far brighter than your subjects, making them appear dark in the camera. Shooting against the light and underexposing your image is the best way to create a silhouette. This principle applies whether you are practising silhouette photography in a studio with studio lighting, or taking a silhouette photograph outdoors with natural lighting.
2. Shoot at sunrise/sunset
You should shoot at sunrise or sunset because you need the background to be far brighter than your subject to obtain a good silhouette. When the sun is rising or setting are the times of brightest sunlight with the source behind your subject, which makes it optimal for silhouette photography. You can also take silhouette photos during the day, but sunrise and sunset can add some beauty and drama to your image.
3. Focus on your location
Because your subject is going to become obscured, some of the attention will be on the background. Therefore it’s important that you pay more attention to your background than perhaps you usually would. Finding a visually appealing open space will enhance your silhouette photo greatly. If you Google search for ‘silhouette photography’ you will see a myriad of silhouettes taken on the beach, which should inspire you to find a great natural location to shoot in.
You aren’t just limited to the beach, however; you can also shoot in woodland areas, against mountains, or even a distant city view – whatever you feel like. Even if your location is less exotic, just make sure the background is open, clear and free from distractions.
4. Get down low
Getting down to a lower angle to shoot from a different perspective can make sure your subject is within the frame, looks taller, and shows off your background. Don’t be afraid to experiment and shoot from a lower angle to create a great silhouette photo.
5. Silhouette photography camera settings
Your aperture should be relatively high e.g. f/8 or higher to widen your depth of field and keep everything focused. (This can also help you to create a lens flare effect to your image). Your shutter speed should also be higher than normal to avoid excess underexposure, as you want your image dark enough to create a silhouette. Your ISO should be low to avoid too much noise. These can also be used for indoor silhouette photography settings.
6. Silhouette photography indoors
Although outdoor silhouette photography is very popular, you don’t just have to shoot outside. You can also create an interesting silhouette photo in your own home if you want to.
Shooting a silhouette photo at home is relatively simple. You don’t need strong sunlight from the outdoors to create a great silhouette image. When shooting indoors just make sure you are also shooting facing the light, to create the silhouette.
7. Shoot in front of windows
How to take a silhouette in front of a window? That’s easy. All you have to do is place your subject in front of the window! Because a window is a strong source of light compared to the room, the light will create contrast against your subject to create the desired silhouette.
This also means that you don’t need to shoot at sunrise or sunset. Even shooting on an overcast day is possible when shooting in front of a window, but you will have a cool colour temperature, as opposed to a warmer colour temperature produced at the start or end of the day.
8. Shoot in doorways
Many photographers shoot in front of windows because it looks interesting and dramatic, and it’s easy to create a great silhouette. To vary your images, try shooting in doorways as they are also a great source of light and create a different and unique composition.
9. How to take silhouette pictures on a phone
Although it is easy enough to create a silhouette image on an iPhone by shooting against the light, it is easy for the sky to become overexposed due to the strong sunlight. Luckily, you can rectify this using manual exposure on your iPhone. First, tap on the screen to focus properly, and then swipe down the screen to reduce the exposure, making everything darker. Now everything is darker, you can adjust the exposure properly.
10. How to make a silhouette photo on an Android phone
The process of taking a silhouette photo is the same with an Android, but on these phones, the exposure slider is on the left, instead of swiping down. Unlike iPhones, not all Androids have an exposure slider. If your Android phone does not have an exposure slider you should go to your advanced settings and then adjust the ISO to help expose your image. We have also written an article to help you improve your smartphone photography skills further.
Now that you’ve covered the basics of silhouette photography, you can experiment with taking amazing silhouette photos.
If you’re interested in hiring a photographer who can create amazing silhouette photos for you, book with Splento. At Splento, we provide you with reliable, on-demand photographers. Contact us today to speak about your photography needs.