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

Contrasto

How 12 Exhibitions, Two Museums and One Gallery Changed Photography Forever

A new book by Contrasto explores how exhibitions shaped the evolution of photography, and helped establish it as a unique and powerful art form

Read More
Collage of clashes in Cairo, Egypt. Photographs taken between 2011-2013.

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 21, 2014

Havana. Ministry of Industry. Ernesto GUEVARA (Che), Argentinian politician, Minister of industry (1961-1965) during an exclusive interview in his office.

René Burri, Photographer of Picasso and Che Guevara, Dead at 81

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,566 other followers