My love for silhouette images started with photographing my three girls. There is a hill just up the road from our house that I would drag them up to practice whenever there was a colorful sunset.

I love how silhouettes tell a story, yet there is still so much left for the viewer’s imagination. And they’re quite simple to create with a few steps!

Prepare your client.

When clients request these images, I will tell them ahead of time to plan on waiting for that perfect moment at the very end of our session. Be patient!

One thing I have learned along the way is that the best time for silhouettes is usually a few minutes after the sun has set and the sky bursts into color. I also suggest they wear something a little more form fitting as loose shirts and flowy dresses will make your subject look larger than they really are.

I love how silhouettes tell a story, yet there is still so much left for the viewer’s imagination. And they're quite simple to create with a few steps!

Pick a good location.

I most often take these images at the beach, but there are so many other great locations for silhouettes. All you need is a clear view of a beautiful sky at sunset.

There have been times where I have needed to be a little more creative to find an unobstructed view. Since they are higher up, I have found that the top of parking garages work well. If we are in a location that just doesn’t have a clear view, I will lie on the ground and shoot my subject from below. This works well for images like this of the mom throwing her baby up in the air.

I love how silhouettes tell a story, yet there is still so much left for the viewer’s imagination. And they're quite simple to create with a few steps!

I love how silhouettes tell a story, yet there is still so much left for the viewer’s imagination. And they're quite simple to create with a few steps!

Choose the best lens.

I use a variety of lenses, and I choose which one is best for that particular session based on the space I have and how I am trying to frame my subject. My current favorite is the Canon 35mm f/1.4L. The way this lens captures the rich colors of sunset amazes me every time. It is fast and consistently sharp, even in low light.

I love how silhouettes tell a story, yet there is still so much left for the viewer’s imagination. And they're quite simple to create with a few steps!

If the beach is crowded, I tend to shoot closer to my subject to isolate them from everything around them. If this were the case, I would choose a wider lens like the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L. Other times, I like to shoot from much farther away to create a smaller silhouette, like this one that I shot with the Canon 200mm f/2.

I love how silhouettes tell a story, yet there is still so much left for the viewer’s imagination. And they're quite simple to create with a few steps!

Get your settings in order.

I shoot in manual mode, and when choosing my settings, I first expose for the sky. I most often am shooting young children or subjects that are moving, so I prefer a really fast shutter speed. This means my ISO might be pushed a little higher than normal. My aperture is usually somewhere between f/9 and f/16 so the sunset and sky (or if I happen to catch a bird flying through the sky) are clear behind my subject.

I love how silhouettes tell a story, yet there is still so much left for the viewer’s imagination. And they're quite simple to create with a few steps!

Emphasize with post processing.

Most of my silhouettes are shot against just the sky – if any other foreground is included it is minimal and simple. Because of this, my edits are fairly quick and easy.

I use Lightroom to saturate the color of the sky and decrease the blacks. I get rid of any noticeable pieces of dust that might have shown up on my sensor using the spot removal tool and straighten the horizon using the angle ruler. I increase the whites to brighten the sky up a bit, and I decrease the noise only if there is noticeable grain. If shot correctly, a silhouette image doesn’t need a lot to make it pop!

I love how silhouettes tell a story, yet there is still so much left for the viewer’s imagination. And they're quite simple to create with a few steps!

I love how silhouettes tell a story, yet there is still so much left for the viewer’s imagination. And they're quite simple to create with a few steps!

I love how silhouettes tell a story, yet there is still so much left for the viewer’s imagination. And they're quite simple to create with a few steps!