A silhouette is a way of making a subject appear featureless aside from their outline by being against a bright coloured background. The use of this creates mystery, mood and emotion, while conveying a story.
Darren Rowse wrote a guide on how to photograph silhouettes in 8 steps. The basic concept is to have your subject in front of a light source which will force the camera to set it’s exposure to the brightest part of the image, the background. Leaving the subject underexposed; black or darkly coloured. However, sometimes a touch of light makes them slightly more three dimensional and real.
1. Choose a strong subject – a strong recognisable shape that will hold interest in a 2d form.
2. Turn off your Flash – you want as little light on your subject as possible
3. Get your light right – ensure more light is shining from your background. Place your subject in front of a bright light.
4. Frame your image – Shoot your subject in front of a plain, brightly coloured background.
5. Make silhouetted shapes distinct and uncluttered – if there is more than one shape you’re trying to silhouette keep them separated. When framing photograph silhouetted people as profiles rather than looking straight on, leaving more of their features outlined and recognisable
6. In auto mode – Press the shutter button halfway down, move your camera back to frame your shot, take the shot.
7 In manual mode – If your subject is too light bring down the shutter speed a stop or two. If too dark bring the shutter speed up a stop or two.
8. Focusing – Pre focus your shot before metering it. Use aperture to maximise your depth of field by setting a small aperture.
From taking photography in college I knew most of these techniques however I was unaware of shooting people as profiles rather than straight on. This is an important part of my image as I need the hands of the anonymous people to stand out and not the face in my image.