With your back to the sun, with your back to the sun …” it’s like a mantra that has been repeated in our heads over and over again every time we wanted to take a picture, because I’m sure you’ve heard it so many times that it has stuck to your brain Like a tick Yes, of course, the backlit photos, no matter how many “remnants of my life” they are (as “Last of the Row” says), come out dark … or not? Mmmmm … this is full of nuances and it is best that we dedicate today’s article to discover that the backlight is not so bad and much less the angel Lucifer. It has many benefits and in this post I will be in charge of demonstrating them to you. Do you want to meet them? If you are thinking “Ohhh, no, another article of silhouettes, no …” Then I will tell you that you are wrong, yes, we will talk about the silhouettes, but (read this “but” with emphasis) there are other reasons to photograph backlight and feel really satisfied with the result. Now you want to meet them? Well, settle in and keep reading


Before continuing with what the backlight offers, we will define it well so that there is no doubt. Backlit photos are characterized, as you know, because the source of lighting (either natural or artificial) is in front of the camera and not behind or on the side. Several options can be presented: that the light does not directly affect the camera because it is covered by the subject (or object) or because we decide to leave it out of the frame, or that we do shoot directly at the light source.

Light source inside the frame
Light source outside the picture frame
Light source behind the object

You can also check in the previous images that the backlight can occur with well-lit subjects, surrounded by a beam of light or in the form of a silhouette. The silhouettes, in addition, can be very opaque or be somewhat illuminated. Everything will depend on what you want to achieve.

Then I will talk about those reasons why I told you that it is worth photographing against the light and finally I will give you some tips to learn this technique, because I have to tell you that it is very good exercise to start in photography, since that if you learn to control the light, you will have a lot (but a lot) of path taken in the photograph.


Backlit photos enhance the details of the image in a special way. It is as if each of the elements and their components came to life or had a magical halo, as if you could touch them. Look at this image, especially on the stem, and see how the hair stands out in the portrait.

Backlight enhances textures
The hair is seen in detail in a backlight


The photos taken backlit have an extra dose of naturalness and freshness. We are more accustomed to the sun than to the flashes and to see in an image the sun in front makes us feel at home

The naturalness of the backlight


Another of the wonderful effects of the backlight is the profile that draws on the protagonists of the image. It is as if with a luminous brush you draw the outline of the subjects (or objects), but you don’t have to do it, the light already does it for you. And it will make it more golden if it is at sunset or sunrise. Of course, you have to find the ideal angle to achieve this effect. When you do several tests and take it easy, there will be no stopping you.

Light contour


I have already mentioned at the beginning that we would also talk about silhouettes, and they deserve to talk about them. Why? Because they provide drama, because they count without showing, subtly, because they generate a halo of mystery, because they leave room for imagination … The important thing is that you capture an interesting, suggestive silhouette, and if you tell a story, much better. You can see it in the example. And if what you want is to know step by step how to photograph a silhouette, read this post .

Silhouettes with history


When photographing backlight you are including light as an element of your image. Light is important in photography, so much that without it we know that there would be no such photo, but it can also be an element of it. Iaio tells you very well in this article (essential).

The light as the protagonist of the image


Everything that has the virtue of being translucent is a perfect protagonist for the backlight. Because of its ability to let clarity pass, if we take the picture on the opposite side of the light source, the transparency will become more evident and all the details will be highlighted, filling with life and a special color. A stained glass window, the wings of a butterfly, a silky fabric, the petals of a flower … they enhance their beauty by portraying them against the light. If you don’t believe it, look at these examples.

Backlit Poppy Petals
Translucent butterfly wings


Okay, not worth any backlight, the ideal is the sunset. But it is backlight after all, and it is one of the elements that can bring more romanticism in a photograph. And as they say in my land, to show a button. I leave you a link to a pre-covered report by Fran Russo so you can check it out for yourself.

If you liked the idea, with this light and with these tips to photograph couples you can get a beautiful report. Maybe you do not dare with your best friend’s wedding (it is the most sensible thing if you are not professional), but with the pre-wedding or post-wedding.


I will not deceive you, backlight is not an easy task, but everything worthwhile in this life takes a little effort. Also, what can we not achieve with enthusiasm and practice?

These tips will help you achieve good backlights:

  1. Spot metering: Use the spot metering mode to better measure the light and thus have better backlight control. You may want to get a completely dark, partially lit silhouette, or that the subject is well lit but the light is visible behind. Depending on the effect you want, you will have to measure on one side or the other, but you will not get a good backlight using the matrix mode or the evaluative measurement mode. If your camera does not have this function, do not worry, it helps to measure the light, but it is not essential to achieve a backlight.
  2. Flashes: For a long time they have been considered an error in the image, however, they are now in fashion. If I tell you to include sparkles in your photography, it is not because of fashion precisely (I am not much of following fashions), but because of the magic and freshness they convey. In addition the lines of the flashes can serve as a guide to direct the gaze to the point of interest.
  3. The flash: If what you want is a total backlight, avoid it. You can use it if you are looking for fill lighting for a portrait, although there are also reflectors (if you want a more natural result).
  4. Composition: Especially when photographing a silhouette, it is very important that you make a good framing and a more elaborate composition. The silhouette loses color and needs the composition to compensate for other “shortcomings.”
  5. Tell a story: That your image tells something is always important, but when we cannot see the face of a person or their gestures, or the textures of an object, the need for the silhouette to tell a story prevails even more.
  6. Exposure: If you want a full backlight, you have to expose the background (even if you have to reframe).
  7. Make profile portraits: The less illuminated you want to portray your subject, the more convenient it will be to put it in profile, so the nose, lips, chin, will give us the information of your physiognomy.
  8. Take advantage of the golden hours: Actually nothing hour, that that fair moment of golden light before the sun sets lasts about fifteen minutes, but it is worth taking advantage of them because the light it offers is spectacular. With this application you will not miss any sunset! And if you miss a sunrise, it’s because you fall asleep

We have reached the end. I hope I have bitten the backlight bug and although you know it is not an easy task, it has motivated you enough to practice and achieve impressive images.

If so, help me also motivate your contacts by liking it and sharing this article. Thank you! I wait for you on the other side of the sun, I say … I’ll wait for you in the next article!

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