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

Josh Raab

#LightboxFF: Experience a Night at the Museum

TIME follows Instagram photographer Dave Krugman inside the American Museum of Natural History, his latest behind-the-scene tour at some of New York City’s largest museums

Read More
A group of people takes a picture of themselves from the Victoria Peak Lookout with the Hong Kong skyline as a backdrop on May 25, 2014, in Hong Kong.

How the Selfie Stick Is Killing the Selfie

Hyperlapse

Instagram Wants Hyperlapse To Be ‘Another Way of Seeing’

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,707 other followers