Photography Project: Creating Portrait Silhouettes

Family collage

I’ve always been fascinated with how to represent a family outside of the typical formal portrait. You know the one, everyone in a park sitting on the grass, or running along the beach at sunset. This time I decided to try the “Victorian Silhouette” approach.

We all happened to be together this summer for a family reunion. So on the morning of the last day, I managed to recruit my family to participate…..even before pancakes were served.


  • DSLR
  • Zoom lens (although next time I will try with a prime lens and stand in the same place for consistent framing)
  • White bed sheet

Photo Capture

  • Hang the sheet over a window to create a white background. The window does not need to have direct sunlight.
  • Over expose the image by 1 to 1 1/2 stops to achieve a white background
  • Assure people that know one will see their hair or the features of their face
  • Try to frame each image with the same amount of negative space around the subject. This may get challenging when you have adults and kids


  • In Photoshop choose the white eyedropper in the Levels Adjustment layer
  • Hold the Alt key while selecting different areas of the background to ensure everything this white
  • Move the middle slider on the histogram to the right to blacken the portrait
  • Merge the layers
  • Choose the Magic Wand tool and select the white background
  • From the Selection menu inverse the selection, so the black silhouette is chosen.
  • Choose Edit –> Fill and make sure the Black option is selected
  • To create the collage, I used JHP’s photoboards.


  1. Najasila

    Cracking up: “Assure people that know one will see their hair or the features of their face.” Great project. I think I will give it a shot at Thanksgiving…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s