I frequently take time to look back and reflect on my previous work. It’s a good practice as I seek continued growth as a shooter. It is also something of a requirement of the job as month’s end means double-checking that everything is backed up on multiple hard drives.

While looking back on August’s work, I noticed the frequent use of silhouettes in my photography. They are a powerful tool that can make even mundane subjects stand out in your own shots.

The dictionary definition is essentially the dark outline of someone or something against a lighter background, especially in dim light. And the simpler the background the better.

I pulled several of my shots from this year’s Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days as illustrations of how the concept works. I usually broaden the definition to include lighter subjects that are silhouetted. I’ve also included detailed cutlines.

A quick glance at the page as a whole makes the point. The primary subject of each image is clear at a glance. There is value in subtle photos where the viewer must take time to really see what the photo is “saying,” but most successful images are ones that are readable in an instant. They “pop” and grab a viewer’s attention.

Silhouettes are also very useful in low light situations. At the fairgrounds, most of the buildings are dark. Silhouetting the subject against a bright area — often the outside — allows you to exposed more for the brighter outside light than the dim indoor light.

Watch for the silhouette opportunities and capture photographs that pop!