Modern Studio – Shadow Silhouettes | St. Louis Family Photographer

Remember those shadow silhouette drawings women in empire waisted dresses would create whilst games of whist played in the background? So Jane Austen! And who doesn’t love Austen?!?!  So I’ve been trying a modern spin.


These images, while looking very dramatic are not really complicated. Here’s what you need: dark fabric and a spot light. I used my black backdrop and a desk light.

Lots of artists use these in concerts to create dramatic images on jumbo trons and you can too 😉  In photog speak this is like using a “kicker” backlight.  The key is positioning the light source correctly behind your subject. You want the light to shine all the way around the head and hair but not be visible.   Then try to eliminate all other light sources in the space.


Once you’ve got the positioning of the light just right, meter off the highlights in the hair, you want most of the image to be so dark it’s almost black, as long as you can clearly see the back light through the hair and around the head, you’re golden. So mess around with  settings here, but keep your ISO nice and low.



Once you are at your computer and ready to edit, convert the image to black and white and up your contrast. Then take your tool brush and burn (that’s reducing the exposure) in any areas you need to, I had to burn out part of the lamp arm behind the heads.  Take that exposure reduction as low as you want, you are just trying to make everything but that outline black.

Then be sure you have your prints made and get those works of art up on your walls!

Now there you have it, you are a real life Austen heroine!
As always, if you have any questions or want to share – I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or email