How to Create a Silhouette

Silhouette photography is when the subject is photographed and is completely black, making only the outline visible. With the subject appearing as a shadow, viewers cannot see texture, color, or the 3- dimensional form. As a result, photographers need to take extra considerations to make the form easily recognizable.

Program Your Camera

To program your camera to photograph silhouettes, start with lowering your ISO to 100-200. If you increase the ISO, the silhouette parts of the picture will become light and grainy. If you find yourself in need of more light, try decreasing the shutter speed (you may need a tripod if the shutter speed is 1/40 or lower).

As for aperture, have it set at f/8 or higher. This setting will allow the subject to stay black instead of gray while making the silhouette more detailed.

Make Your Image Unique

Once you have an idea of what to photograph as a silhouette, experiment photographing the subject at different angles. For example, if you’re photographing a person, try photographing them as a profile, head on, or with them striking random poses. Whereas if you’re photographing a building, there is no one ‘right’ way.

To find the best shot, try walking around the building multiple times to find the right angle. Another tip for shooting buildings; try to find one that has a lot of empty space around it. If the primary building is close to other buildings, the silhouette will look cluttered.


The best time to shoot is either in the morning when the sun is rising or in the evening when the sun is setting. When the sun is lower in the sky, the subject will be more dark and pronounced.

The fun part about silhouettes is how creativity comes into play. Practice making buildings, people, or random objects a silhouette! As the photographer, you have the power to make anything a silhouette.


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