If you scroll back through my Instagram feed you'll notice that I have a thing for silhouette images. They became my favourite way to document my third pregnancy and continued on as a way to document certain stages of my post partum experience too. They've almost become a signature style of mine, they were even featured on 'Baby Centre' (click here to read article) towards the end of the pregnancy. I love the simplicity. I love the timelessness of the black and white, and I loved how easy they were to create.
There's no need for fancy equipment, or to spend hundreds of dollars on a photographer. They can be created by you, in the comfort of your own home - not an ounce of make up or fake tan required. You can be as bold as you like - I adore my pregnant body, and set about creating images of that alone (I have since continued this with my post partum body, as it's something I wish to remember, every lump, bump and wrinkle), so I wore as little as possible to capture this. However, that isn't to everyones' taste. You can still create stunning images with the use of fitted clothing, or something loose and flowing. You can still create gorgeous images while wearing your favourite ball gown (you know, if you have one), if you choose to. It's entirely up to you.
But have you ever seen some of these images floating around on social media, and wondered how the heck they've been created? I wonder this kind of thing about images all the time, and I feel too embarrassed to ask.
But would you believe me if I told you that it was super easy, and I edited them all just using my phone? And not some kind of fancy photo editing software on my computer?
Well, you'd better believe it - and I think you'll be surprised just how easy it is to do!
It's taken me almost 18 months to perfect the images for myself (see slideshow above to check out how they've evolved). So don't be worried if yours don't turn out quite right at first, keep practicing.
Here's how I do it now;
To take the image...
So, here's what you'll need;
1. A room with (preferably) one big window.
2. A white sheet, or sheer curtain - depending on exactly what kind of image you want.
3. A camera or phone.
4. A tripod, or shelf - something to rest you phone or camera on, that's about chest height.
How to set up;
Firstly, the use of the window is crucial. To create the silhouette, you need to have your brightest light coming from behind the subject. I use my kid's playroom - it's one of the only rooms in my house that has light coming in from just one big window. And like I said earlier, this is critical, because it means my light is only coming from behind me - the subject. If there's too much light coming from different directions, you lose some of the impact you're trying to create.
I don't own any fancy backdrops, I literally thread a white bedsheet over the top of the blind or curtain rod. then drape it down as evenly as possible. I don't worry too much about creases or small shadows, because they can all be easily edited out at the end.
This is where you can choose what kind of image you wish to create. Some silhouettes are created using beautiful soft sheer curtains behind the subject. My personal preference for the images I create, is a clean, stark white background - which makes the figures really pop.
Set your camera or phone up so that you can capture as much of the subject, and the window as possible. You can always crop out the unnecessary bits later.
I personally use a DSLR camera. It's a 7 year old Nikon D3100. It's well in need of an upgrade, but it does the trick for me. This is only my preference because I love the sharp images created by the camera, however, it can absolutely be done using your phone. So if you don't own a fancy DSLR, don't despair.
Set up your self timer. If you are using your phone, change your settings to allow yourself maximum time to get into position. If you have a newer camera that is remote compatible, then you're one step ahead. Sometimes I have little helpers. My 5 and 3 year olds are obsessed with pressing the button on the camera for me. So I set it to continuous shoot, and they just hold the button down. If you don't have these options, it might take a little bit of jumping back and forth, from the camera to your position, but it's all in the name of art right? ;)
Keep repeating the process until you come up with an image that you're happy with. It does take some practice to get your body positioning exactly right.
Editing the image...
Now this is the easiest part of the whole process. Most of my images are for my social media, so I do all of my editing on my phone. I use the app 'Snapseed' because for me, it's the only app that has the specific functions I want to use, while not decreasing the quality of the image.
Once you have loaded your image into Snapseed, you'll need to convert it to black and white. This is where you can get creative, and come up with your own signature style. It's taken me lots of practice and many hours playing around over the last 18 months, to come up with the style that suits me the most.
Snapseed has multiple black and white presets. Depending on how much light you want left on your image, you can choose a 'Bright' black and white, through to a 'Dark' black and white. I personally adore the way the light shows the shape of the body and the imperfections, so I use either a bright, or a neutral black and white. For the particular image I'm featuring here however, I used the 'Contrast' setting, because my image was already quite bright. So just play around and see what suits you. If you wanted to have a bold black and white, you can go for the dark or the contrast option. In saying that, all options can be altered through the editing process, so don't worry if it doesn't look exactly how you want it to at this stage.
Once you've chosen your desired black and white look, it's time to get rid of some of those unwanted background bits. You can crop the image in your Snapseed app (or straight from your phone prior to this if you want to), crop it down to your desired level. If you're planning to post the image to instagram or facebook, I would recommend cropping it to either a square or a landscape layout. These work best in my opinion.
Once again in your tools section of Snapseed, head to the 'Selective' tab. This tool is what I use to create the stark white background. This option allows you to brighten specific areas. So just tap over an area that has some darkness that you wish to get rid of. Then slide your finger right, and brighten in as much as you can. Continue doing this over your entire image. be careful not to brighten your subject, just the areas that you wish to whiten.
Once you have finished this step, you can play with some of the other tools if you desire. You have the option to darken the subject by increasing the contrast, or the shadows. The world is your oyster. My only caution would be to not over do it with these tools, otherwise you can tend to lose some of the sharpness of your original image. If you get to this point and decide that playing with these tools is changing your image too much, you can start again, by opting for a darker black and white option, right back at step one.
This style of photo has become my absolute favourite to create, and I hope that this tutorial helps you to create your own. I have created a short video tutorial of the editing process in my Instagram stories, in case you ever need to watch how it's done.
If you create your own, let me see! Tag me or DM me, I would love to see!
Love Kirsty xx
Behind the blog...
‘The Mummysomniac’ is a lifestyle, motherhood and most recently, pregnancy blog, founded in 2015 by Kirsty McKenzie. She’s a mum of three, blogging about the highs and lows of motherhood, with a straight forward and honest approach, as well as a little bit of humour. Kirsty is passionate about sharing the realities of #MumLife, not the cookie cutter, high gloss version