How to Shoot a Silhouette Photograph


Silhouette portraiture is a fine part of the art of photography mastered by very few. Although this technique is not overly complicated, it can only be accomplished within a few set parameters and thus is slightly more difficult to achieve. While natural outdoor lighting is ideal for the most dramatic silhouette shots, indoor lighting can also be used for a more industrial affect. Here is a guide to the rules of shooting great silhouette portraiture, both indoors and outdoors.

Remember that for a silhouette shot, there must strong light coming from the back of your subject. In other words, your subject should be between you (your camera) and the light source. This is the only way to shoot a true silhouette (and not shadow silhouette) photograph. Ideally, a silhouette photograph works when the subject is drastically underexposed (to the point of only appearing as a black figure) in front of the brighter background light. To fully achieve this, you will need to have your camera focused on the background light more so than the subject itself. You may also need to manually adjust the settings on your camera to only allow a certain amount of light into the photograph. It is possible to click such silhouette photograph with the help of Canon 80D bundle.

In general, a sunset or a sunrise will present the best background lighting for a silhouette photograph. Not only is the light strong enough but the bright colors also provide a great contrast to the dark black of the silhouette figure. Try to shoot your portrait when the sunset is still bright enough to allow the silhouette figure to be a distinct black instead of just one of the many darker shadows of black. If you are shooting at either a sunrise or a sunset where the exact location of the sun’s position is easily identified, try to position your subject so that they are directly in this line. Having the “ball” of the sun directly behind your subject will make a more dramatic photograph.

If you are shooting a silhouette photograph indoors, you will need to artificially create a strong background light. A shaded lamp in an otherwise dark room should be sufficient for this, and you may have to use more than one lamp at different levels if you are attempting to shoot a full body silhouette. Position your subject in an interesting pose in front of the lighting and shoot as you would for an outdoor photograph, remembering to disable the flash on your camera during the photo shoot. Other options for indoor silhouette photographs include using tunnel lighting in an industrial hallway at the background light for your subjects.

Overall, when shooting silhouette portraits, remember to always keep the lighting behind the subject and to not use a flash during the portrait. Be creative in how you position your subject(s).