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Beginners Photography Tips- Silhouettes

Creating silhouettes in your photos can make for really striking, impactful and fun images. Below are a few tips on how to create a successful silhouette photo.

Light Source

The most important part of creating a silhouette is to make sure you have a nice strong light source directly behind your subject. This could be the sun, a window, a door or any other light source. Place the subject directly in front of it and shoot towards the light.

Subject Outline

When you are photographing a silhouette it doesn't matter about the subject's facial expression or details. You need to concentrate on their outline only. Try and capture interesting body shapes and pay attention to any limbs that are right next to the body which won't be visible in the final shot. Especially when photographing groups you need there to be space between the subjects otherwise they will just become one blob! Also make sure the scene is uncluttered, so just your silhouetted subject is in the frame and the light behind them if possible.

Capture Movement

Try and encourage the subject to move around and capture some fun movements. If you are photographing children you could ask them to jump or dance. If you are photographing nature you could for example try and capture birds in flight. Movement helps to create a striking and fun silhouette.


Particularly if you are shooting your silhouette outside against a bright sunset for example, getting low down so you capture a large area of lit sky really helps to get more light into the camera. This also adds a large expanse of sky in your final image which is more impactful. Look out for capturing interesting clouds and colours that appear at sunset.

Auto Mode

If you photograph in Manual mode on your camera you want to try and narrow your aperture, use a fast shutter speed to capture interesting movements and expose for the sky/ light source to achieve a successful silhouette. Most people use Auto mode and if this is the case there are still things you can do to create a silhouette. Most cameras will have automatic metering which will try and expose your photo correctly- this means it will try and bring the exposure up to light your subject correctly. The problem here is that you want to intentionally underexpose your subject. You can get around this by half pushing your shutter when the focus point is on the lightest part of the image. Then while keeping the button half pushed down, move the frame to where you want it and take the photo. This means that your camera will meter for the very light part of the image and should result in the subject being very underexposed and you will have achieved your silhouette! I think this would also work on a phone by touching the screen on the light part of the image before you take the shot.

Post Production

There are lots of editing apps and software available for your phone or camera. You can enhance your silhouette images using these by increasing the blacks and contrast in the image. Try Lightroom for mobile which is a really user friendly and has loads of features to try out. Most phones have in built photo editors too where you can increase the contrast to add some drama to your photos.

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to leave comments or contact me with any questions!
Helen x