The Power of Silhouette | Photography

This photo, taken near Israel’s Dead Sea, is a great example of how powerful silhouettes can be in photography


This is also another example of a photo taken on the fly, where in the blink of an eye I prioristed composition over camera settings.

But allow me to digress for a moment to circle back to the point. Let’s look at this photo again without the silhouette:

Silhouette cropped

I think you would agree that the photo might now appear to be a little ordinary – very “meh”, even though it’s the Dead Sea (the naval of the Earth).

Silhouettes can add a big, powerful layer to your story.

Now look again at the top photo with the silhouette. See the difference? The silhouette adds a layer to the story and really makes the Dead Sea “pop” – almost brings it alive. You notice how the water shimmers, you might notice the “fingers of God” (rays of light) and the desert that frames it and gives it depth.

And as a viewer you can almost picture yourself there, almost imagine that you are that person looking over the Dead Sea.

And now I circle back to my point; I took this photo quickly. I didn’t take my time to play with the exposure settings or ask my friend to pose. This was a natural moment that wasn’t going to last long. I quickly exposed for the bright area of the frame (the shimmering sea) and made sure my friend occupied a corner of the frame. Although he is marginalised, his role is key; he’s the main reason this photo is dramatic, and when in Israel, drama is something you want to capture.

So when you are out there with your camera, always consider the margins of your frame. They are key. Ask yourself what you can put there to really amplify what you are photographing in center frame. Often it can be a silhouette, and with that you can add a big, powerful layer to your story.

Here are some of my other shots of people:

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