Silhouettes in the News

Gregory Bull—AP
Gregory Bull—AP
June 6, 2012. A man paraglides behind the lines of another paraglider off the Torrey Pines Gliderport in San Diego.

Prior to the invention of photography in the mid-19th century, the silhouette was considered an effective and inexpensive way to record a person’s likeness or capture a scene. Although the practice can be traced back to the early 17th century, the term ‘silhouette’ derives from the harsh policies of the French finance minister Étienne de Silhouette.

The silhouette reduces an object to its most basic form. Its historical uses in art can be seen in the paper cuts of Hans Christian Andersen and the artwork of Kara Walker. In photographic terms, the silhouette is created in situations where the subject is backlit. It can be used to hide a person’s identity or play up their distinctive features, and its graphic form is often used artistically to photograph sport and dance. It heightens drama, adds atmosphere and makes a banal scene into a graphic wonder.

More than 200 years ago, the silhouette was the foremost way to document one’s appearance, but it’s still widely used in photographic frames today. From capturing the world’s protests and politicians to wildfires and war zones, LightBox looks at the use of silhouettes on the wires this month.

See the first Silhouettes in the News feature on LightBox here.

Related Topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Latest Posts

Children, whose family moved to Islamabad from Sargodha in Punjab Province to look for work, stand outside their school at a slum in Islamabad

Pictures of the Week: Oct. 17 – Oct. 24

From the sentencing of Oscar Pistorius and a fatal shooting at the Canadian War Memorial, to a pair of white lion cubs in Serbia and Darth Vader on the campaign trail, TIME presents the best pictures of the week

Read More
Namsa Leuba

A Fresh Look at Africa through Nigeria’s Largest Photo Festival

A North Korean woman walks on the peak of Mt. Paektu in North Korea's Ryanggang province, June 18, 2014 .

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 24, 2013

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,697 other followers