How To: Photograph Silhouettes for this Week's Phone Snap Challenge

Photograph Silhouettes for this Week's Phone Snap Challenge

A silhouette is an outline of a person or an object, usually dark or having little detail, against a brighter, more well-lit background. For this week's Phone Snap Challenge, we've asked you to capture your own silhouette photo with your cell phone for a chance to win a SuperHeadz Ultra Wide and Slim 35mm Camera.

How to Photograph Silhouettes for this Week's Phone Snap Challenge

Before you go off to shoot, here are a few tips for taking a great silhouette shot with your cell phone.

Step 1 Choose Your Subject

When photographing silhouettes, the shape is the most important feature of the subject. You'll want to choose a subject that has a clear shape and can be recognizable without its color or texture.

Step 2 Evaluate and Set Up the Proper Lighting

When taking photographs, most subjects are lit from the front. When photographing silhouettes, the opposite must be done. The light source should come from behind the subject. You will always want the background to be brighter than your subject.

Step 3 Frame Your Shot

Frame your image and be aware to include the brightest light source of the image into the background. Either hide the light with your subject directly in front of it, or just make sure that the light source is somewhere in the background.  

Here's an example of two photos I took of the same subject; one in which the subject was lit from the front (left image), and the other lit from behind (right image).

How to Photograph Silhouettes for this Week's Phone Snap Challenge


  • Be sure that the shape of your silhouette is defined. Don't clutter your subjects, as combining and putting too many subjects next to one another will merge them into a possibly unrecognizable shape.
  • Make sure the flash is not turned on or in auto mode. Since no light should come from the front of the subject, the flash will ruin your silhouette image.
  • If your camera phone has an exposure setting option, play around with it. Generally, setting your exposure to a lower level will help you get the silhouette that you desire.

Now that you know the basics of silhouette photography, get out there and start shooting and experimenting! Don't forget to submit your best silhouette shot to the Phone Snap! corkboard by Monday, January 9th, 11:59pm PST for your chance to win this week's Silhouette Challenge.

Silhouette Photo by Michael Sissons (Hipstamatic)

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