(Last Updated On: December 27, 2022)

(Originally published on August 2, 2010)

A Silhouette picture can make one of the most beautiful photos. Silhouettes are great because they give the picture a sense of mystery and leave a part of the image up to the observer’s imagination.

In simplest terms, to take a silhouette photograph you need to put the subject that you want to be blacked out in front of a bright light source. Then, you have to make sure your camera is taking the light reading and setting the exposure from the brightest part of your picture.

Silhouette Example Picture

Take a look at the picture below. It is a picture of a rock hill and a bird blackened out during a sunset. Even though you cannot see details of the bird, you can still tell that it is a bird by the shape of the black area.

How to take silhouette photos

This silhouette was achieved by taking the light reading of the sunset in the background, not the darker area in the foreground. Silhouettes only work when the background is a lot lighter than the foreground. That’s why sunsets are the perfect opportunity for capturing a silhouette.

Steps for Photographing Silhouette Pictures

  1. First, choose a subject. The subject you choose should stand out when it is blacked out. A strong, recognizable shape will make the silhouette more interesting.
  2. Then, turn off your camera’s flash. If you were to use a flash, it would defeat the purpose of a silhouette as it would light up your subject in the foreground, thus not blacking it out.
  3. Next, use a bright light source for the background. Sunsets and sunrises are great for silhouettes.
  4. Take your light reading. Remember to expose the picture from the lightest part of the picture.
  5. Finally, set your camera from the reading you gathered in step 4, then snap the picture!

More Silhouette Ideas

Do you want to learn how to take more silhouette pictures? Try this idea of your subject in front of a glowing Christmas Tree. Click the following guide to learn how.

Have you Taken any Silhouette Photos?

Please share your silhouettes photos in the comments below! I would love to see how they turned out!

📜 About the Photographer

Tamara Ray Photographer
Tamara Ray

I started out using 35mm point and shoot cameras, then upgraded to a 35mm DSL camera, and then finally came the world of digital DSL cameras. Gone are the days of having to wait for your film to be developed to see what you captured. Photography has never been so much fun!

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