Silhouettes with a SmartPhone

Creating Captivating Silhouettes with Your Smartphone Camera: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you ever wondered how to capture those breathtaking silhouettes that stand out against a stunning sunset, or a dramatic skyline? The good news, is you don’t need an expensive camera, or advanced skills to create these captivating images.

With just your smartphone camera and a few simple tips, you can capture stunning silhouettes that’ll take your photography skills to the next level.

In this step-by-step guide, I’ll show you how to create them with just your smartphone camera.


Step 1: Find the right location

The first step is to find the right setting.

Finding the right location can really take your silhouette images to another level. Here’s some simple steps to help you find the perfect location:

Choose your silhouette location carefully
image by Sasint


1. Look for a strong light source: Silhouette photography relies on having a strong light source, such as the sun, as the backdrop. So, look for locations where you can position your subject between yourself and the light source.

2. Consider the time of day: The best time to capture stunning silhouettes is during the golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise or before sunset. The low angle of the sun during these times creates a warm and soft light, perfect for this type of photography.

3. Scout for interesting backgrounds: Although the focus of silhouette photography is on the subject, an interesting background can add depth and visual appeal to your images. Look for locations with intriguing elements like trees, buildings, or natural landscapes that can enhance the effect.

4. Check for unobstructed views: Make sure that there’s no objects or obstacles blocking the light source. You want a clear line of sight between your subject and the light source to capture a clean and well-defined silhouette.

5. Consider the surroundings: Pay attention to the overall ambiance and atmosphere of the location. The surroundings can help tell a story, or even add a mood to your photographs.

For example, a beach at sunset, or a city skyline at dusk can create stunning backdrops.

6. Be aware of safety: While you’re searching for locations, prioritise the safety of yourself and your subject. Avoid any areas with potential hazards, or with difficult access.

And, make sure you get any permissions you need, to photograph in certain locations if necessary.


Step 2: Choose and position your subject

Once you’ve found the right setting, it’s time to choose and position your subject.

1. Recognise strong outlines: Look for subjects that have distinct and recognisable shapes, or outlines. Subjects with interesting profiles, or recognisable poses tend to work well in silhouette photography.

Consider subjects like people, animals, trees, or objects with interesting shapes, or a distinct outline.

Place your subject in front of the light source, such as the setting sun or a bright light, in a way that will create a strong and defined outline. This is the most important step in creating a silhouette, so take your time to position your subject in the right position.

2. Emphasise gestures and poses: Pay attention to the gestures and poses of your subject. Dynamic and expressive poses can add drama and interest to the silhouette.

Experiment with different poses and encourage your subject to create interesting shapes with their body, or use props to enhance the composition.


Step 3: Adjust exposure

Adjusting the exposure is a vital step in creating a captivating silhouette. Since the light source is behind your subject, your camera will automatically expose for the background, making your subject appear too dark.

To fix this, reduce the exposure on your camera app by tapping on your subject. The camera will adjust the exposure, giving you a much better looking image.

Adjust silhouette exposure
Image by Quangpraha


Step 4: Focus on the details

If you want to make your silhouette even more captivating, focus on the details. Look for the little things that enhance your subject’s outline, such as the curve of a tree branch, or the outline of a person’s hair.

These details add depth and interest to your silhouette, making it stand out from the crowd.


Step 5: Experiment with angles

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles.

Try to find locations where you can position yourself at various angles in relation to the light source and the subject. Different angles can create unique compositions and highlight different shapes and contours in the silhouette.

Try shooting at different angles
image by Adina Voicu


Try shooting from above or below your subject, or from different sides. Each angle will create a different effect, so explore and find the one that works best for your subject.



So, to wrap up this week, creating captivating silhouettes with your smartphone camera is an easy and fun way to take your photography skills to the next level.

Remember, the right location for silhouette photography will depend on your creative vision and the specific effect you want to achieve. Don’t be afraid to explore different places, experiment with different lighting conditions.

Let your creativity guide you to find the perfect location for stunning silhouette images.

By following these simple steps, you can capture stunning silhouettes that will amaze your audience and inspire you to experiment more with your smartphone camera.

Just remember to keep your eyes open for interesting subjects and light sources, position your subject carefully, adjust the exposure, focus on the details, and experiment with angles.

With practice and patience, you’ll soon be creating captivating silhouettes that’ll make your photos stand out from the crowd.


If you’d like some more creative ideas for your photography, check out this earlier postor even this section of another recent article.

Until next week, Stay Sharp!


Featured image courtesy of Doni Shala

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