group silhouette Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

10 Tips to Take Stunning Dark Silhouette Pictures

June 21, 2022

Have you been thinking of more ways to add a creative touch to your photos and photography skills? Well, you should try dark silhouette photography and see how you like it.

Silhouette portraits have a way of grabbing your attention, and they also stand out from regular photos. They portray mystery and bring out emotions that give you a deeper connection with the image. Through the connection, a story is told, and the main aim of photography is to tell your story through these dark silhouette pictures.

If you want to take amazing dark silhouette pictures, here are some tips that could help you capture stunning images.

1. Subject Should Be Against the Source of the Light

A person's eye has a significantly more comprehensive spectral response than any camera sensor. Our eyes immediately recognize a human standing against a sunset sky, but if you photograph the same portrait, you'll get something completely different.

When the light source is against your photography subject, the subject remains in shadow and transforms into a silhouette when you snap a picture. The sun must be low in the sky if you're shooting sunset siihouette outside. For this reason, sunrises, sunsets, and winter days at higher latitudes are ideal for black silhouettes.

2. Set the Exposure Manually

Your smartphone's technology will automatically adjust exposure for the larger areas of your photo, leaving you with a black silhouette in the dark if your subjects are small and don't take up a large proportion of the picture. However, if your subject takes up a considerable portion of the image, you'll need to adjust the exposure manually.

headshot silhouette photo

Photo by Dotun Sangoleye on Unsplash

Tap on the brightest sections of the image outside your subject to establish exposure (and focus) for that point, as well as convert your subject into a black silhouette image if the light is coming from behind.

3. Focus on the Outline of Your Subject

When photographing dark silhouettes, it doesn't matter what your subject's facial expression is because you'll see their outline. Therefore, you should learn to think about your photography topics in terms of their outline. You'll discover that little details like the position of a subject's limbs can make a huge difference.

Images taken in front of each other are a good example of overlapping subjects. Overlapping subjects are confusing and don't look nice because only their combined outline is visible.

4. Look for an Open Space

When taking silhouette pictures, the location matters a lot. It has been noted that black silhouettes taken in open spaces are more striking than in other locations. Beaches, grassy fields, river banks, and the ocean are some of the best places you can choose to take your silhouette pictures.

5. Position Yourself Then the Subject

Instruct your client to position themselves between you and the sun once they face it. Unless you wish it, the subject does not have to be directly in front of the sun, obstructing it with their body.

silhouette pictures of a photographer with his camera

Photo by Tevin Trinh on Unsplash

Once your subject is in the best position, you'll need to pose them so that they genuinely stand out from the background – and the spectator can tell who or what is in the picture by glancing at its contour and shape. To get the perspective that best captures the outline of your subject, you may need to move around it, crouch down, or stand on a step stool.

6. Permanently Hide the Sun Behind Your Subject

When capturing against the sun, you'll frequently find that vast portions of your images are blown out (becoming white). Lens flare might be an issue when taking shots directly against the sun. While lens flare can be employed to create a unique effect, it's usually best to keep the sun out of the picture by placing it precisely behind your main subject.

You'll get intriguing shadows approaching you if your subject is narrow (like a standing person). If you kneel (or lower), you can magnify the shadows, which looks impressive because it draws the viewer's attention directly to your subject.

7. Look for Interesting Clouds

It's especially vital in silhouette photo shots to pay attention to the background against which your silhouettes are placed. Look for fascinating patterns and formations in the clouds to see how you can juxtaposition them with your silhouette to produce a genuinely unique photo when having the sky as your background.

8. Tricking Your Camera

dark sihlouette picture of a man

Photo by Liam Arning on Unsplash

Since you want to capture a black silhouette, you'll have to adjust your camera to meter the sky rather than the subject. Begin by pointing your camera at the brightest section of your frame – but not directly into the sun – and halfway pressing the shutter. Then recompose and take the photo while pressing the shutter halfway down.

9. Find Intriguing and Unique Subjects

While taking silhouette shots is simple, they won't turn out well unless you choose interesting photography topics — ones that will make your photos stand out. 

Other humans are the number one silhouette subjects, followed by birds, trees, and artificial objects. Taking black silhouettes of portraits is fun because they always make you wonder who the person in the silhouette photo is and what they would look like.

10. Trying Shooting Against Doors and Windows

While most silhouette shots are captured outside, you may create distinctive silhouette pictures indoors if you shoot directly into the light source. This is especially effective when most light comes in through a door or a window.

Bonus Tips On Creating Black And White Silhouette Pictures

Using Lightroom

dark silhouette picture of a woman

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Creating a black and white silhouette picture is easy when using lightroom. However, it is easier when the image is primarily backlit. With a backlit image, you need to adjust the contrast to 100 in the contrast meter; the highlight is adjusted to 100. Then adjust shadows to -100 and Dhaze to -100. You can choose to saturate the sun in the background to bring back some color, or adjust the Dhaze meter.

Experiment With Monochrome Filters

A busy background can sometimes draw the viewer's attention away from the subject, making your shot feel cluttered. The image is simplified with a black-and-white filter, which emphasizes the subject and background while removing distracting colors. Most photo editing applications have a variety of monochrome filters or black-and-white, allowing you to try out different effects until you find one that suits your image.


With the tips above, you are ready to go. All you need now is more practice in different angles and different subjects. Find that perfect scene and take those black silhouette shots. In every photo, do not forget to edit to add more drama or subtleness to the photo. Adding more saturation and contrast makes your shots pop out. Have fun taking those dark silhouette pictures.

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