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This assignment ran from Dec 8 to Dec 29, 2016.

Dear Your Shot community,

It is a pleasure to be back here. It was a memorable experience working with all of you last year on the Urban Wildlife assignment, and I look forward to engaging with you again over this entire month. Recently, I have come to realize that I have a strong affinity for silhouettes, and they may have captured your imagination too. By definition, a silhouette is the image of a person, animal, object, or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color, usually black, with its edges matching the outline of the subject. The interior of a silhouette is featureless, and the subject is typically presented on a lighter background. 

After giving it some thought, I realized that I’m drawn to silhouettes for quite a few reasons. To start with, they look very mysterious—they’re dictated by light, angles, subject, and composition. Because the silhouette is featureless, finding emotion in an image becomes difficult, which makes silhouette photography very challenging. The action and the mood of the image are mostly ruled by the light and, most importantly, silhouette photography teaches one to separate the layers and subjects of the picture by avoiding overlap. You’ll find that these points are just a few of the many that go into making a silhouette image.

In this assignment, I want to see why you like silhouettes in the photos you submit. Your silhouette photos can be black and white, full colored, or even multicolored using natural or artificial light. This assignment is intentionally very broad—your photos can be of wildlife, people, landscapes, or products—so, in a way, your subject could be anything and everything. This assignment is going to be evaluated by the aesthetics, composition, and originality of the images, but do share if there is any story associated with the image, as I am always curious to know more about your beautiful pictures. I am looking forward to viewing all the amazing images from you in this assignment. Good luck!

Curated by:

Prasenjeet Yadav
Photographer & National Geographic Explorer
Assignment Status
  • Open

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  • Closed

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  • Published

    Once the submission period is over, we'll review all contributions and select our favorite images to be included in the story. Learn more.
Published Jan 5, 2017.
Thank you for your contributions!

Last Day

Posted dec 28, 2016

Hi Your Shot,

It was great interacting with all of you on the discussion board yesterday. I would like to use this opportunity to thank you all for your participation in this assignment. It is overwhelming for me to see your responses and stunning imagery. We have already crossed 13,000 images, and there are still more images pouring in. Wow!

When we launched this assignment, I had few compositions in my mind that I was expecting from this assignment, and you’ve shown me multiple versions of those, and way better than what I had thought of. You’ve surprised me repeatedly with your images, and that was the most fun part of this assignment for me. I learned a lot looking at your pictures, and I must say that this assignment has taken silhouettes far above the classic understanding of them, creating fresh perspectives.

Lastly, your enthusiasm and passion have been very visible in your comments and discussions, and I hope this process of helping each other continues—this is what makes this forum Your Shot. We’ll be accepting submissions until December 29th, so choose wisely— I am looking forward to seeing few more magical and fresh perspectives of silhouettes.

Good luck and stay tuned for the final story!

Fourth Submission

Posted dec 27, 2016

Thank you everyone for taking part in our discussion board chat earlier. I have decided to open up the submissions to this assignment and allow a fourth one. We have just two days left until the assignment closes so choose your last image submissions wisely. 

Happy Holidays

Posted dec 25, 2016

While going through the submissions to this assignment, the following image really struck me as a great holiday themed silhouette.

Photograph by Inge Hawkins

Wishing all of you on Your Shot a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Portraying Emotion

Posted dec 23, 2016

Wow! We have already received 10,000 entries, and there is still a week more to go. This is getting really interesting, and I am glad that you are enjoying this theme so much.

As I mentioned in the introduction, it's tricky to portray emotion in a silhouette, as it is featureless. I have looked at all the images entered in the assignment so far, and some have done an excellent job of overcoming this drawback. Here are some of the images that I found have done it well.

Photograph by Avijan Saha

This silhouette by Avijan Saha clearly demonstrates the tension between humans and these gentle giants. One can sense the urgency and see how these animals are rushing across the road to avoid interaction. I can imagine how stressful this must have been for a mother with a calf.

Photograph by Zoe Ladika

This picture by Zoe Ladika is quite enigmatic. I went on looking at this image, and it still makes me wonder. At first glance it seems like the girl is in distress, but I can’t see her expression. This image leaves me with a lot of questions: What is that girl doing? Is she playing? Is she struggling with something? What does that curtain signify?

Photograph by Kristie K.

This beautiful picture by Kristie K caught my attention. A simple square crop, the silhouette of a kid, and the color of the jellyfish is all stunning. What I found most interesting about this picture is that even though I can’t see the face of the kid, I can imagine the child’s curious expression. The wide-open arms show that this child is indeed awestruck seeing these magnificent creatures.

These were just a few examples, but I am glad that the entries are full of such images. I am looking forward to more such silhouettes that express and trigger certain emotions. I am also impressed to see that some of you took time to create images specifically for this assignment—such effort doesn’t go unnoticed. You still have a week more to go. Good luck!

Join us for a live discussion board chat on Tuesday, December 27th at 1pm EST. Editor Prasenjeet Yadav will be answering any questions you have on what makes a great silhouette image.

The Challenges of Silhouettes

Posted dec 14, 2016

There are already more than 4,300 entries for this assignment, and we have just gotten started. I must say that I am amazed by the huge response this assignment is getting. I am glad that you are enjoying this challenge and sharing all of your incredible silhouettes with me. Most of you got the assignment theme right, but it looks like there is still some confusion between silhouette and shadow. 

As you all know from the previous assignment (run by Matt Adams) on shadows, there is a difference between shadow and silhouette. I would like to use this image by Myriam Beatriz Mahiques to explain the difference. In this picture, the man on the left is a silhouette. On the right is the reflection of the silhouette in the mirror, and at the bottom is his shadow. This is a well-conceptualized image. I love the play of light; reflections add to the image, and the way the foreground is used to build a strong concept is very interesting    

Photograph by Myriam Beatriz Mahiques

For this assignment, what I am primarily looking for as an editor are silhouettes. If the image is well conceptualized, I will consider the reflection of a silhouette as well, but let's try to keep the silhouette in the image.

I will share a few example images that I think are pushing this assignment by making creative images.

It is not necessary that the background has to be mono-colored and illuminated only by golden light. Anai Colyer's image is a great example of how one can use a splash of color to create a silhouette.

Photograph by Anai Colyer

This image by Christian Petit caught my attention, as it uses the light in a directional manner to isolate the silhouette from the rest of the composition. This image shows that it's not necessary for a silhouette to be the most prominent feature of the image; it could be used to balance the composition as well, and there could be other illuminated subjects in the image around the silhouette.

Photograph by Christian Petit

Silhouette photography is accessible to all of us, and that is what makes it challenging. For this assignment, images from archives will do, but I would really like to see some new images taken that are unique and fresh, bringing out silhouettes that we have never seen before.

Once again, I would like to compliment you all on the beautiful images that you have contributed so far. I am looking forward to all the entries to come. If you have more questions, you can find me in the discussion section.

Prasenjeet Yadav

Prasenjeet Yadav

Photographer & National Geographic Explorer
Prasenjeet Yadav is a molecular ecologist turned photographer and a National Geographic Explorer. Early in his scientific career, he realized that his real passion lay in storytelling. He now combines his research experience with his photography skills to tell stories about science, exploration, and conservation. Under his explorer's project, he produced a story on the evolution of species in the Shola Skyislands of the Western Ghats. He is represented by National Geographic Creative and is currently working on a film about the Skyislands of India.