Usu­al­ly a strong shad­ow in the pic­ture is the ene­my of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er. To make it not rigid, they use spe­cial light schemes, reflec­tors, edit the fin­ished frame. But how to make the shad­ow of your assis­tant, a high­light that will trans­form the pic­ture? How to cre­ative­ly pho­to­graph a shad­ow on the street and indoors was described in this arti­cle.

Almost every­one already knows how to shoot with­out a shad­ow. But how to make it your mag­ic tool? This was dis­cussed below. Pho­to: artsbma.org

Gen­er­al rec­om­men­da­tions
Cre­ative ideas with pho­to edi­tors
“That’s not my shad­ow!”
Col­or dou­bles
ghost­ly por­trait
Shad­ow in a por­trait
Shad­ow and Geom­e­try

General recommendations

  • To catch a dark, almost black shad­ow, it is bet­ter to shoot on a clear, sun­ny day. Clouds work as a reflec­tor to the light — they scat­ter the rays, the light becomes soft­er. And the shad­ow is lighter.
  • The best time for shoot­ing is from morn­ing to lunch and after lunch (until evening). From 12:00 to 14:00 there is a high risk of get­ting too high con­trast from the mid­day sun. Lunch times may vary by region and sea­son.
  • Shoot dur­ing the gold­en hour for a shot filled with warm gold­en light and long beau­ti­ful shad­ows. This is the peri­od before sun­set and after sun­rise.
  • To shoot beau­ti­ful shad­ows on the ground (for exam­ple, unusu­al from a build­ing with bizarre archi­tec­ture), take a high­er posi­tion. For exam­ple, you can climb onto a rooftop, a bridge, or use a quad­copter.
An exam­ple of unusu­al shad­ow draw­ings on build­ings. Pho­to: spangarden.se

Creative ideas with photo editors

“That’s not my shadow!”

If you’re shoot­ing indoors and are look­ing for a cool idea, give this one a try. Need:

  • put a plain (prefer­ably white, it is eas­i­er to work with) pho­to­phone;
  • put the mod­el with her back to the pho­tog­ra­ph­er and fac­ing the pho­to­phone;
  • set the light source so that it falls on the left of the back of the mod­el and the shad­ow turns out to be slight­ly to the right of the per­son him­self;
  • take 2 frames where the mod­el does 2 dif­fer­ent actions.
An exam­ple of what 2 shots can be tak­en. Illus­tra­tion: YouTube chan­nel COOPH

Next, in the edi­tor, you need to com­bine 2 pic­tures. Take the shad­ow from one, and the mod­el from the oth­er. You can read about 5 ways to help cut out an object in Pho­to­shop in our blog.

Shoot­ing result. Illus­tra­tion: YouTube chan­nel COOPH

Color doubles

Shoot­ing shad­ows with col­or fil­ters is an unusu­al idea. With their help, you can make mag­i­cal accents and cre­ate dou­bles. Need:

  • put the mod­el with its back to a white pho­to back­ground;
  • from two sides (to the right and left of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er) direct two light sources with gel fil­ters at it (it is bet­ter to have dif­fer­ent col­ors so that they do not merge). Light sources are opti­mal­ly placed at an angle of 45 degrees. But it can be changed at will.
An exam­ple pho­to of a shad­ow with col­or fil­ters. Illus­tra­tion: YouTube chan­nel COOPH

ghostly portrait


  • posi­tion the mod­el so that the sun is behind it and the long shad­ow is in front of it;
  • the pho­tog­ra­ph­er to take a place on a small hill. Suit­able stool, steplad­der, bench;
  • mod­els take the desired pose;
  • assis­tant — arrange acces­sories around the shad­ow;
  • take one frame. After that, the mod­el takes off her shoes (as care­ful­ly as pos­si­ble so that the shoes remain stand­ing exact­ly the same);
  • take anoth­er shot.

The main thing remains — to con­nect two takes so that you get a ghost­ly por­trait. With­out a mod­el, but with a shad­ow and acces­sories. And we talked about how to com­bine sev­er­al takes into one in a blog.

The result of two glued frames. Illus­tra­tion: YouTube chan­nel COOPH


You can use the game of shad­ows to cre­ate dif­fer­ent illu­sions. For exam­ple, as in the first pho­to in this arti­cle, three-dimen­sion­al let­ters and num­bers are laid out in such a way that when illu­mi­nat­ed from a cer­tain angle, a person’s pro­file is formed.

Now we will show exam­ples of sim­ple illu­sions that are easy to repeat on your own.

It is enough to put 1 or more rings into an open book and choose the right angle of inci­dence of the sun’s rays to get a roman­tic pho­to. Illus­tra­tion: YouTube chan­nel Matthew

With the help of a shad­ow, you can eas­i­ly “fin­ish” the pic­ture. Add a cos­tume, face or hair­style. The main thing is to choose the right object and the side from which the light­ing will fall.

The Bel­gian direc­tor and illus­tra­tor Vin­cent Bal active­ly uses this tech­nique. Pho­to: zagge.ru

Shadow in a portrait

Shad­ow is a pow­er­ful tool that can dra­mat­i­cal­ly change even a bor­ing pho­to and add dra­ma to it. Regard­less of where and at what time of the year you hold a pho­to ses­sion, with the help of dif­fer­ent acces­sories you can cre­ate an inter­est­ing and unusu­al shad­ow.

For a stu­dio pho­to shoot, a beau­ty dish with hon­ey­combs is per­fect. They allow you to cre­ate a spot­light effect and nar­row the beam of light that comes from the plate.

If there is no such equip­ment, you can take any dense thing with holes (colan­der, chain-link mesh).

What you need is to place an object with holes between the light source and the mod­el (on a stand or give it to an assis­tant). Image: YouTube chan­nel Shut­ter­stock Tuto­ri­als
The result will be like this. Image: YouTube chan­nel Shut­ter­stock Tuto­ri­als

You can make an unusu­al shad­ow on the face using:

  • beau­ti­ful fab­ric (for exam­ple, you can take dense lace with an unusu­al pat­tern);
  • plants. Palm leaves or oth­er large ones look beau­ti­ful. The small­er the leaves and flow­ers, the more dif­fi­cult it is to catch a clear pat­tern on the mod­el’s body.
An exam­ple where the shad­ow is bright, crisp and takes up most of the mod­el’s body. So that the pic­ture is not one black spot, you can high­light the back­ground itself. To do this, you need to install a light source behind the back of the mod­el, which will be direct­ed to the back­ground. Pho­to: promodj.com, pinimg.com, behance.net

The inten­si­ty of the shad­ow, the clar­i­ty of the pic­ture and its size can be adjust­ed. To do this, the acces­so­ry can be brought closer/removed from the mod­el or the light source.

A clas­sic black and white pho­to­graph by Ital­ian pho­tog­ra­ph­er Fer­di­nan­do Scian­na show­ing a beau­ti­ful shad­ow pat­tern on a girl’s body. Pho­to: cameralabs.org

Shadow and Geometry

Twi­light can not only hide unwant­ed or ugly objects. It can also empha­size the tex­ture, geo­met­ric fea­tures of the build­ing, the archi­tec­tur­al mer­its of the street.

Where can I find an inter­est­ing place to work? The eas­i­est way is to pur­pose­ful­ly go to a loca­tion that is suit­able for such shoot­ings:

  • with sym­met­ri­cal columns, bal­conies, arch­es through which light falls beau­ti­ful­ly;
  • where, for exam­ple, an unusu­al­ly shaped ceil­ing or walls made of non-sol­id mate­r­i­al. For exam­ple, it’s just pipes or mesh. And the light breaks through them, form­ing straight lines, rhom­bus­es, squares, etc. on the floor and walls;
  • fenc­ing, fence with a sym­met­ri­cal or vice ver­sa, with an asym­met­ri­cal, but inter­est­ing pat­tern.
An exam­ple of a place where you can def­i­nite­ly catch an unusu­al, dis­tort­ed shad­ow. Pho­to: afasiaarchzine.com

If you plan to pho­to­graph archi­tec­ture, be sure to check out the guide on our blog.

In addi­tion to obvi­ous­ly suc­cess­ful places, there are oth­er loca­tions. You can take a pic­ture of the shad­ow on the wall in any, even the most incon­spic­u­ous loca­tion. For exam­ple, a shad­ow might:

  • close part of the under­pass;
  • dark­en exact­ly half of the street (you can effec­tive­ly take a pho­to from a great height or, con­verse­ly, almost from ground lev­el);
  • split the frame (for exam­ple, if it is a shad­ow from a bridge, a cross­ing over a road­way and it divides a part of the image with an even, black stripe).
The shad­ow in the pic­ture is from the bridge. Illus­tra­tion: YouTube chan­nel Gabriel Andre

Where else can you shoot geom­e­try and shad­ow? Fin­ished in the stu­dio. If it is not there, you can use a pho­to box (and they can be up to 2 meters high and wide). You can install any object in it and exper­i­ment with light and shad­ow. Even if you have a very small pho­to box at your dis­pos­al, this is enough to take a beau­ti­ful shot with a shad­ow.

For exam­ple, for such a shot, it is enough to fold a white sheet of paper, put it in a pho­to box and exper­i­ment with light. Illus­tra­tion: YouTube chan­nel Appel­moes — Art and Pho­tog­ra­phy

We hope that these exam­ples will help you replen­ish your port­fo­lio with cool and unusu­al shots.