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

The Ebola Crisis, Gulu, Uganda, 2000

Picturing Ebola: Photographers Chase an Invisible Killer

With already more than 670 victims, Western Africa is battling its most serious Ebola outbreak in four decades. TIME LightBox speaks to photographers Samuel Aranda and Jodi Bieber about the challenges involved with covering such a deadly story

Read More
HONDURAS - IMMIGRATION

Immigration Crisis: Photographing the Violence Behind the Honduras Exodus

DC 050.52 001 elephant relocation # I, ol pejeta conservancy, no

Save the Animals: David Chancellor’s Powerful Photographs of Conservation Efforts