Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are are learning about Silhouette photography in Jaipur, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Wandering through the narrow lanes of the old city of Jaipur, the photographer found himself enchanted by the daily life unfolding around him. From bustling bazaars to serene courtyards, every corner of Jaipur told a different story. It was the people of Jaipur, however, who truly brought his photographs to life here portrayed in a silhouette photograph.
Wandering through the narrow lanes of the old city of Jaipur, the photographer found himself enchanted by the daily life unfolding around him. From bustling bazaars to serene courtyards, every corner of Jaipur told a different story. It was the people of Jaipur, however, who truly brought his photographs to life here portrayed in a silhouette photograph.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on May 27, 2024

Jaipur street portraiture

Jaipur, is a place where history and modernity blend seamlessly, offering a vivid tapestry of colors, sounds and smells. As a travel photographer, the photographer has always been drawn to the unique interplay of light and shadow that the city offers and involved capturing the essence of Jaipur through silhouette photography, a technique that accentuates shapes and outlines against vibrant backdrops, creating a dramatic and timeless effect.

What is silhouette photography?

Silhouette photography is a style of photography where the subject is captured in such a way that it appears as a dark shape or outline against a brighter background, typically with minimal detail visible in the subject itself. This technique emphasizes the contours and shapes, creating striking and dramatic images.

A journey in silhouette photography
Silhouette photography is a powerful method to emphasize shapes and forms against a brightly lit background. In Jaipur, the clear blue skies during early mornings and late afternoons provide the perfect backdrop. The stark contrast between the dark figures and the vivid sky creates a dramatic and visually striking effect. This technique strips away details, focusing on the outline of the subject, which often evokes a sense of mystery and emotion.

Silhouette photography is a captivating art form that transforms ordinary scenes into dramatic visual stories. This technique involves capturing a subject against a bright background, typically during sunrise or sunset, resulting in a dark, featureless outline that contrasts sharply with the illuminated backdrop. To achieve the perfect silhouette, position your subject in front of a strong light source and adjust your camera settings to expose for the bright background, causing the subject to appear in shadow. Pay attention to the shape and form of your subject, as the essence of silhouette photography lies in its ability to convey emotion and narrative through simple, yet striking, outlines. Experimenting with different angles and compositions can lead to stunning and evocative images that highlight the beauty of minimalism in photography.

Jaipur's streets are a photographer's paradise and the city's architecture
With its stunning palaces, forts and 'Havelis', provides a perfect canvas for silhouette photography. The warm glow during sunrise and sunset, making these times ideal for capturing striking silhouettes. One of his favorite subjects was the local people, whose silhouettes against the vibrant cityscape and the photographer used a combination of wide-angle and telephoto lenses to vary my compositions. The wide-angle lens allowed him to include more of the stunning architecture and cityscape, while the telephoto lens helped isolate his subjects, emphasizing their shapes and details in India.

"Silhouette photography in Jaipur presented its own set of challenges. Managing exposure was crucial, as the photographer had to ensure that the background was bright enough to highlight the dark outlines of my subjects. Patience was key, as capturing the perfect moment often required waiting for the right light and positioning"

Jaipur's streets are alive with activity and color
From the bustling bazaars to the serene courtyards of historic 'Havelis', every corner of the city offers a new scene to capture. The architecture, with its ornate details and grand facades, sets the stage for striking silhouettes. The daily life of the people, whether they are engaged in work, play or simply going about their routine, adds a dynamic element to the photographs.

A moment on the bridge
One of the photographer's most memorable captures was of a young man standing on a small bridge in a quiet neighborhood of Jaipur. The bridge, with its simple yet elegant design, spanned a narrow lane that was typical of the city's older quarters. The moment the photographer saw the young man, he knew it would make a compelling silhouette. He stood still, gazing down at the street below, lost in thought and as the photographer positioned himself to photograph, the deep blue of the sky contrasted beautifully and the young man's figure, outlined sharply against this backdrop, created a poignant image of contemplation and solitude.

The stories in silhouettes
Silhouette photography in Jaipur is not just about capturing beautiful images – it is about telling stories. The young man on the bridge, for instance, could be anyone – a student contemplating his future, a worker reflecting on his day or a traveler enjoying a moment of peace. The ambiguity of silhouettes invites viewers to engage with the image and imagine their own narratives Kristian Bertel | Photography learned.

"Photographing silhouettes in Jaipur allowed me to explore the city's vibrant life from a unique perspective. The interplay of light and shadow, set against the clear blue skies, brought out the timeless beauty and emotional depth of everyday scenes. The image of the young man on the bridge remains one of my favorites, encapsulating the essence of Jaipur in a simple yet powerful silhouette"

The charm of Jaipur's streets
Jaipur's streets are a living canvas of its rich cultural heritage. Capturing locals in their traditional attire, artisans at work or colorful festivals can add depth and narrative to portrait photography. The natural light in Jaipur, especially during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, bathes the city in a soft, golden glow. This light is perfect for portrait photography, enhancing the colors and textures of the city while highlighting the features of the subjects. The interplay of light and shadow in the narrow alleys and broad streets can add a dramatic effect to portraits.

Beyond the well-known landmarks, Jaipur is filled with hidden gems such as quaint alleys, ancient temples and serene gardens. These lesser-known spots offer intimate and unique settings for portraits, away from the crowds. Exploring these areas can lead to discovering perfect backdrops that add a personal and exclusive touch to the photographs.

"Jaipur's streets, with their rich tapestry of history, culture and color, provide an unparalleled canvas for portrait photography. The city's unique blend of architectural beauty, vibrant marketplaces and cultural richness ensures that every portrait tells a story, making Jaipur a truly enchanting destination for photographers"

Technical aspects and challenges
Capturing silhouettes requires careful consideration of exposure settings and to ensure the subject is dark enough to stand out against the bright sky, the photographer adjusted the exposure compensation to underexpose the image slightly. This technique accentuates the outlines while preserving the vibrant colors of the sky. Using a low 'ISO setting' helped to maintain the clarity and richness of the colors.
Framing was crucial and the photographer positioned the young man in the middle of the portraiture, which added balance and interest to the composition. The bridge's straight lines led the viewer's eye towards the subject, enhancing the overall impact of the photograph.

Tips to silhouette photography
The best silhouettes are created against a bright, uncluttered background because the sky at sunrise or sunset is ideal because it offers vibrant colors and sufficient light contrast. Switch your camera to manual mode to have full control over exposure settings because this allows you to adjust the aperture, shutter speed and ISO to achieve the desired silhouette effect.

Using a small aperture, which is as a high 'F-stop number', helps to keep both the subject and background in focus, because this enhances the sharpness of your silhouette and the details in the background and keep your 'ISO setting' low fo instance 'ISO 100' or '200' to reduce noise and maintain the clarity of your silhouette and background.

Ensure your subject has a clear and recognizable shape. Pose your subject to emphasize their outline, avoiding overlap with other elements that could muddle the silhouette. Point your camera at the brightest part of the background to set the exposure, because this ensures that the background is properly exposed while your subject remains dark. A tripod helps stabilize your camera, especially in low-light conditions typical of sunrise or sunset, allowing for sharper images.

Experiment with the rule of thirds, leading lines and other composition techniques to make your silhouette images more dynamic and visually appealing and you can incorporate movement into your silhouette photographs. Subjects like birds in flight, people jumping or flowing water can add a dynamic element to your photos.

"Silhouettes do not give the viewer a clear picture of everything but leave part of the image up to their imagination to wonder about. You can use photo editing software to enhance your silhouettes and you can adjust contrast and brightness to deepen the shadows and highlight the colors in the background, making your silhouettes more striking. Do not limit yourself to just people, silhouettes of trees, animals, buildings and objects can also create compelling and unique images"

See this video about silhouette photography in India made by V2K Photography.

The photographer's own experience of silhouette photography in India
"- Jaipur is a treasure trove for photographers seeking to capture the blend of history, culture and daily life. One technique that brings out the city's vibrancy and the profound simplicity of its scenes is silhouette photography. By focusing on the interplay between light and shadow and using the clear blue skies as a canvas, silhouettes can tell compelling stories. My journey through Jaipur's neighborhoods led me to capture these stories, with one particular image of a young man on a small bridge standing out as a highlight of my photographic exploration", the Photographer says again.

"- My experience with silhouette photography in Jaipur was nothing short of magical. The city's vibrant culture, stunning architecture and the daily lives of its people provided a rich tapestry of subjects to capture. Through silhouettes, I was able to convey the timeless beauty and spirit of Jaipur, creating images that tell a story beyond what is immediately visible. Each photograph is a testament to the city's enduring charm and the profound connection between light, shadow and the human experience", the Photographer says again.

"- Through these photographs, I aimed to capture not just the visual beauty of Jaipur, but also the emotions and stories that make the city so enchanting. Silhouette photography, with its ability to distill moments into pure form and shadow, provided a perfect medium to convey the enduring charm and spirit of Jaipur", the Photographer says again.

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More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a silhouette in Jaipur. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.