André Kanayet


Shooting better pictures: silhouettes and backgrounds

Today I will teach you how to shoot another kind of photographs of great quality which do not require any especially advanced technique…  Anybody can easily shoot these pictures with his mobile telephone.

An initial basic concept which almost any one knows is this: that shooting a picture of a sunset or of a dawn is easy; you basically get good pictures regardless of the composition. Sometimes our Facebook or Instagram gets filled with congrats messages just because we shot an orange clouds picture such as this one:

The picture is good, but basically any one pointing his camera at the skies in the afternoon hours can shoot a photo exactly like this one or one quite similar to it.

Now, the idea is not that we go on shooting the same kind of pictures as usual; the idea is to take our appreciation for photography — and us, as photographers — to the next level; and the technique I will teach to you below is quite simple, but you will see the results of it immediately.

Let us use this premise as the starting point: contrary to what we may think, people are more perspicuous than what we believe; and this is so to such an extent that people receive, appreciate and interpret information without actually knowing that it is there. Their brains absorb the information and make deductions at such speed that they understand body language, sizes, lengths, sexes, specific and abstract figures without being aware of it. The technique that I am going to teach you know is that of using silhouettes to enhance the power of your sunset photographs. This technique is basically grounded on this natural phenomenon.

Let us think about this scenery (call it mountain, beach, sunset, etc.) as a blank piece of paper. When we look at children's drawings there is something constant in them, that is that the background is usually blank. As they grow, they start to color the background, and this has an impact in the drawing or the painting, whatever that may be. Afterwards, the family appears standing in front of mountains and skies. This simple change takes their drawings to new dimensions and makes them more interesting. It is the same thing with photography. If we choose a piece of interesting scenery and we put a figure in front of it, the pictures become immediately better.

That is why I recommend you to at least place one element, whatever that is, to shoot better sunset photos. The only condition is that your figure must be identifiable; that we need no flash to know what is standing there, in front of us.

A very simple way is to place the element (person, animal, toy, etc.) sideways, so that we can identify its figure. For example, think about the differences shooting a picture of the silhouette of a closed fist as opposed to the silhouette of an open hand, where the five fingers stand out. If you do this exercise, you will see immediate results.

Here are some examples so that you may experiment and improve your photos soon.