2012: The Year in Silhouettes

Ebrahim Noroozo—AFP/Getty Images
Ebrahim Noroozo—AFP/Getty Images
Jan. 1, 2012. The Iranian navy conducts the "Velayat-90" naval wargames in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran.

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 back-lit. It can be used to hide a person’s identity or highlight their distinctive features, and its graphic form is often used artistically to photograph sport and dance. It heightens drama, adds atmosphere and turns banal scenes into graphic wonders.

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.

LightBox takes a look at the use of silhouettes on the wires over the past 12 months and presents a silhouette a day — 366 in all — for 2012.

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

Latest Posts

Stephen Waddell

Off the Radar: Jeff Wall Puts the Spotlight on Stephen Waddell

TIME LightBox asked Jeff Wall to select an image maker whose work he admire yet may be unknown to a wider audience. His choice: Stephen Waddell

Read More
Driftless: Photographs from Iowa

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 25, 2014

2014.  Gaza.  Palestine.  Schoolchildren head to class at the Sobhi Abu Karsh School in the Shujai'iya neighborhood. Operation Protective Edge lasted from 8 July 2014 – 26 August 2014, killing 2,189 Palestinians of which 1,486 are believed to be civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed.  It's estimated that 4,564 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants.

Inside Gaza with Photographer Peter van Agtmael

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,333 other followers