sunset children family photographer Wentzville Missouri



Ever wonder how to make a silhouette photograph of your family, kids or on vacation?  The photographs are priceless and look beautiful blown up into canvases, large prints, in a series or just about anywhere!  Here is a DIY about making your own large canvas photographs!  

Step One:  Time

Time of photo:  8:45pm
Sunset that day: 8:29pm

For pretty silhouettes, take them during what we call the "blue hour".  The short period of time (which really isn't an hour... it's more like 15 minutes) after sunset is the best time for silhouettes.  Or the only time.  Truthfully, I cannot get my kids up at 5:30am to try to do a silhouette :-)  

Step Two: Weather

Weather will make all the difference.  The light bouncing off the clouds makes for a lot of pretty colors.  But, you don't need clouds.  You CAN use a plain sky as well!

Step Three: Location, Location, Location.

Same as in real estate.... the location of your subject is important!  The photo below was taken with the kids facing west and the sunset is in front of them.  This photo is taken in the same place and time as the others in this blog post.

Sunset Children Family Photographer Silhouette St. Louis Missouri


This photo below has the kids facing east and the sun is setting behind them.

Sunset Children Family Photographer Silhouette St. Louis Missouri



Step Four: Subjects and Posing

You can choose many different subjects:  kids, family, animals, etc.   For the best silhouettes, make sure their arms and legs are OUT and BENT.  Without bent arms, they will look like sticks.   What I mean with legs is that they are not together, but apart in relation to the photograph.  Otherwise, it looks like they have only one leg.  Arms need to be out as well - or they will look like they have none!  Of course there are rules to be broken, but these simple posing techniques will help yield more positive results.

My favorites are the ones with the kids holding hands.  

Sunset Children Family Photographer Silhouette St. Louis Missouri


Step Five:  Camera

There are certain things your camera will need to do... but it isn't too complicated.  Make sure the flash is turned off.  

Have your subjects where you want them.  

Expose for the sky by having your focal point on the sky.   How to get your subject sharp?  One of two ways:  focus on the very edge of the subject/person OR switch to manual focus.  A third way would be to try increasing the aperture in Aperture Priorty mode or Manual to f8 or higher.

If you are not sure how to change the exposure settings, try it in automatic!  

f/4; ISO 1000; 1/125; 50mm 1.8; Nikon D750

(Yes, I broke my rule about using f8 and up.  The image was sharp with f4, so I left it alone.


Step Six:  Composition

When taking the shot, try to get a lot more sky and a lot less ground.  The ground is black.  It's deadspace.  The sky is beautiful and needs to fill the frame.  The photo below I probably should have had less ground and more sky.  But I was down the hill and the kids were at the top of the hill, so this was more difficult than if we were on even ground.

Sunset Children Family Photographer Silhouette St. Louis Missouri

St. Louis photographer, Mary Riley Photography specializes in engagement, newborn, family and high school senior photography and services St. Louis, MO and surrounding areas including, but not limited to, Wentzville MO, Lake Saint Louis, Chesterfield MO, O’Fallon MO, St. Peters MO, Creve Coeur MO, St. Charles MO, Ballwin MO, Ellisville MO, 
Wildwood MO, Maryland Heights MO, and Weldon Springs MO.