with Courtney Slazinik
10 Incredibly Easy Tips to Silhouette Photography
10 Incredibly Easy Tips to Silhouette Photography
silhouette photos

If you are looking to push your creativity & play with light, give silhouette photography a try. Silhouette pictures instantly grab your attention because of the contrast between dark and light.   They share emotion and mystery which pulls the viewer in deeper to create a more meaningful connection to the image.  And then a story is told.  As photographers, that is our main objective.  To capture and tell a story.

No kidding! Such easy tips for capturing amazing silhouette photos. Love the photography tips from this website!
silhouette photos

Read more: How to Shoot in Manual Mode

I need to be honest.  Silhouette photography may look tricky and complex to capture.  But they are not.  Trust me.  Follow a few simple tips, practice a little, and before you know it, you will be addicted to capturing silhouettes. I promise.

You may be wondering how to take silhouette photos? It is easier than you think. Follow these ten easy steps.

sunset silhouette picture
Download this FREE manual mode cheat sheet!

10 Tips on How to Master Silhouette Photography

1.  Consider taking a sunset silhouette photo, because the background needs to be brighter than the subject.

The main objective is to make your subject stand out.  I often like to take sunset silhouette photos as the sun is low enough in the sky to perfectly silhouette the subject.

woman on a beach in sunset silhouette photography

Read more: 7 Tips to Take a Sharp Photo

2.  Then, choose a subject with distinct lines and shape.  Your subject has to be recognizable in silhouette photography.

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3. Remember, your subject should be isolated. 

If there is more than one person in the picture, make sure they have a little space between them.  Also, if there is anything in the background that is blocking the light or taking attention off of your subject, move your subject to a more open area to keep the subject recognizable.

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silhouette photos

Read more: 5 Tips for Freezing Motion in Photographs

4.  Next, get down.

I am often on my stomach when shooting silhouette photos.  This allows for less background interference with your subject.

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5. Now you are ready to shoot! 

When I remember, I use spot metering.  Meter off of the sky, not the sun.  The harsh light from the sun can ruin your lens.  Once your meter is showing proper exposure for the sky, focus on your subject and click away.

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6.  Don’t forget to close down your aperture f/8 or smaller to add a starburst effect to your image.

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Read more: Everything You Need to Know for Unique Lens Flare Photos

7.  Next, step back a little to frame your subject while continuing to pay attention to distracting backgrounds.

silhouette photos

8.  Silhouette pictures can also be taken inside on a dreary day.

Just look for a window with bright light and let your creative juices flow.

silhouette photos

9.  Silhouette pictures do not have to leave the subject completely black.

Partial silhouette photos offer an almost three dimensional feel to the image.

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10.  Last, have fun with editing.

Add more saturation and contrast during post processing to really make your silhouettes pop.

silhouette photos
silhouette photos

Hope this gives you a little nudge and encouragement to go out and take some beautiful silhouettes.  And to tell your story.

Read more:
11 Photography Composition Rules to Know to Improve your Photography
Everything You Need to Know to Capture & Edit a Stunning Sunset Silhouette

Have you attempted silhouette pictures? What was the biggest challenge?

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  • Rachel
    February 8, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    Love these tips! Thank you!

    • Courtney
      February 8, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      Glad you love it Rachel! Can’t wait to see you rock your silhouettes :)

    • Shannon Heimsoth - Contributor
      February 10, 2013 at 7:31 PM

      Thank you so much, Rachel! Would love to see your work <3

  • February 13, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    Great Article. I love shooting silhouettes. here is one of my silhouettes shot https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=426808644059141&set=a.425641220842550.97157.234504223289585&type=3&theater

  • Carla
    February 24, 2013 at 3:25 AM

    Thank you so much for the silhouette tips. Have just up graded my camera to a SRL EOS 600D Cannon and can’t wait to try out your tips ;)
    Your shots are amazing :)

  • March 16, 2013 at 3:57 AM

    I love silhouette’s these tips totally help me with some of the “why” my photo didn’t quite nail it with the timing of light and seperation of bodies if you want to get it just right, thank you!

  • July 10, 2013 at 2:12 AM

    Thanks for sharing :-)have a nice day.

  • Runal
    October 11, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    Thanks that was really an amazing tip, will try this out soon…

  • Hayley
    February 1, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    I’m a little confused. I thought metering was adjusting your settings – aperture/ISO/SS to get proper exposure. Is this wrong? I thought it meant getting your ticker to the middle, maybe a step above, in order to take properly exposed pictures. But now I’m very confused!

    • February 3, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      That is correct. When you meter for exposure you are metering for those things. Was there something in the post that confused you?

  • March 16, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    I love this!! I’ve been stumbling through metering and this and even the question helped it click! Thanks :) Your website has been SO helpful! http://www.daniellegeriphotography.com

  • Aimee
    March 24, 2014 at 3:45 AM

    Great tips!! I just love silhouette photography. Here are a few of mine:


  • April 28, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    I find this article really helpful. Thank you !

  • Reyna
    October 1, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    Thank you so much for this Tips. This is very helpful to my project. :D

  • Denise
    April 3, 2015 at 3:29 PM

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Olatunde
    September 28, 2015 at 7:44 PM

    Very help tips..Thanks

  • John McGuirk
    March 10, 2016 at 10:20 AM

    What exactly do you mean by metering? Also, would love to know the settings used to shoot some of those pictures., aperature, ISO, etc. Thank You.

  • jenny
    April 11, 2016 at 2:12 PM

    I still don’t understand. Sorry!
    Can you tell me what your settings where for those pictures? Do I need to set my ISO at 200 and my aperture to 2.8?

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  • Bahnisikha Ghosh
    October 6, 2017 at 4:08 PM

    Liked it…cleared to me…Thank you..

  • Joseph
    March 10, 2018 at 12:19 AM

    Very explicit, thank you…

  • jacs
    August 16, 2018 at 2:34 AM


  • Speedypaper
    December 22, 2018 at 1:23 PM

    Amazing shots! I really like them!
    Regards, Speedypaper

  • john
    February 16, 2019 at 2:13 AM

    thanks to the amazing article.

  • Barbara L. Daniels
    July 26, 2019 at 1:04 PM

    thank you for the article. I’ve take a few silhouettes. Took one of my Grand fishing yesterday. He was not impressed but I was. Iol I always need a reminder how to do it. I guess I need to take more to remember.

  • Faith Curtis
    November 5, 2020 at 11:17 AM

    Thanks for the tips, I love silhouettes! Suffering through this Manual mode, trying hard to learn to capture what I visualize in my minds eye instead of the cameras.

  • Lee-Anne Sweetman
    April 16, 2021 at 10:18 AM

    What settings on your camera do you recommend for silhouettes?

    • Courtney Slazinik
      April 16, 2021 at 2:29 PM

      I wish there was a simple answer to this question. It all depends on the light you are working with. Start with metering off the sky (not the sun) and adjust your settings accordingly.

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