I love silhouettes as much as I love shooting in black and white. They are unorthodox. They don’t have much definition but they contain much more drama. Whats actually amazing about silhouettes is that rather than major attention on subject , the actual center of attraction is background.This makes it more interesting and different. It definitely adds more shapes and form to your photograph. They convey a message in an artistic manner and let the viewers’ imagination to fill up the details and complete the story. Its a classic text book example of LESS IS MORE.
So, if you like silhouettes and you want to capture them with their full potential. Below are some pointers that you should keep in mind while doing silhouette photography.
1. Look for high contrast (obviously)
Yes it is pretty obvious but it is very important and that is why I started with this point. A lot f people are actually selecting a wrong subject against wrong backdrop. The low contrast situations are good for portraits and may be for landscapes too but its a big NO in silhouettes. So first of all start with a high contrast situation.
2. Choose an interesting background
Remember visually silhouettes are more of a background than foreground.Background is roughly the 80% of a silhouette photograph.So pay close attention to your background.If it is not interesting enough than you couldn’t able to make a strong photograph. Sunsets and sunrises are so much popular as silhouette backgrounds because they have very dramatic background which makes photograph visually appealing.Your subject doesn’t have details so its the background that has to fill this void visually. Select backgrounds that are strong in color and texture to make an impact.
3. Look for familiar shapes for silhouette
Shape familiarity is the key. Silhouettes are definition-less.They only have shape and that’s it.Look for subjects in silhouettes that everyone is aware of of and just by looking at it anyone can know what it is. If a viewer has took close enough to recognize it , the photograph will fall flat.Internet is filled with silhouette photography having people,animals and trees as silhouettes for the vary same reason. Your subject should have a very definitive shape with string outlines.Don’t depend on the intelligence of viewers.Make it as obvious as you can.
4. Use negative space to your advantage
There is so much I want to emphasize about negative space.Refer my post Photography Composition Essentials: Negative Space . Negative space is actually a breathing space in your photograph. It is a place where viewer’s eyes can rest after observing other details in photograph. It will actually calm down your eyes and ease your mind. It brings a sense of serenity to image. Use it to your advantage.The smaller the silhouette in your photograph the better. But place it on the strongest position where it can make maximum impact.
5. Experiment a lot
Don’t just limit yourself to sunrises and sunsets.Yes they are interesting and they have beautiful colors in it but there are lot more opportunities to do silhouettes. Just look for it. For example, the above Cave picture is simply shot in heavy fog. You can experiment with fog,rain,a lot of smoke and practically anything that reduces definition from your subjects. Introduce a little reflection or shadows and it will spice it up the whole photograph. Break the cliches. Try to come up with your own ideas and remember : RULES are meant to be broken.
Amazing resources on internet
Up-til now I only presented you with my photographs.The internet is filled with amazing silhouette photography.You can find some of the finest examples on this subject .So , apart from my own photographs ,I am giving away some of the reference of stunning silhouette collections you can look into for your inspiration.Do submit your own silhouette images and i will add them here in specific examples.
- 60 Beautiful & Stunning Examples of Silhouette Photography on Deviantart
- 70+ Incredible Examples of Silhouettes
- Captivating Examples of Silhouette Photography
- 50 High Quality Examples Of Silhouette Photography
- 12 Stunning Silhouette Shots