The Ultimate Guide to Photo Shadow Play: 30 Ways to Show Shadows Some Love
Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3
In Photo 101 the third thing they teach you, after “remove your lens cap” and “this is a shutter button,” is to keep shadows out of your photos.
In Photojojo’s Photo 1-0-FUN, shadows are chillin’ at the cool kids’ table.
The secret to success is in knowing how to work with them. Our list-o-awesome shadow ideas can help you get started.
Learn how to make your shadows multi-colored, transform teeny props into massive monsters, or create a cinematic scene with dramatic light.
Unless you’re a Vampire, grab your shadow and head towards the light!
Photos that Go Bump in the Night
Stage a menacing shadow creeping after your friend and give your local photo lab technician nightmares for a week!
Pro tip: the closer you are to the light source the bigger your shadow will be.
Just put them real close to a bright lamp and get ready to defend yourself from their giant shadows!
Our toy dinos (if you’ve ever ordered from our shop you’ve got one) would work great for this!
Shadows in Technicolor!
Be on the lookout for colored glass, balloons, and–if you’re lucky–translucent umbrellas.
And if that isn’t cool enough, you can even put food coloring in water, throw it in the air and get colored splash shadows!
Interact with Your Shadow
It’s really quite simple:
- Have one friend (the Shadow) stand in front of a light source and outside of the frame
- Have another friend stand in the frame and line up with Friend #1’s shadow.
With a little bit of arranging you can make it look like Friend #1’s shadow belongs to Friend #2.
Ponder while your shadow acts out your dreams. Sing while your shadow plays shadow air guitar. Or you could always threaten your shadow with a finger gun like Bader Kamal did (but I doubt he got much money out of ‘em!)
Give Your Shadow Some Props
Pass that soccer ball to your shadow and see what happens.
Shadows also love to throw Frisbees, open doors, and climb ladders. Angie_c even caught hers trying to leave its hand prints on the wall!
(Frogmanor has a whole set of photos over at flickr proving that shadows are also good at climbing stairs!)
Back-light your subject so the shadow comes towards your camera. It will help the image pop and can tell a powerful story.
Turn That Shadow Up-side Down
You can do this to your pooch too!
Shoot Subjects in Half-Shadow, Half-Light
Try hiding different amounts of your subject’s face for a variety of effects. You’ll learn a lot about portrait lighting this way too.
This split-light portrait by Jorege Moreno, Jr. is a stunning example of shadow intrigue. Drama! Drama! Drama!
Give Everyday Scenes Some 3D Wow Factor
The shadow from this fence makes a flat image seem 3D.
Shadows that produce patterns can give interest to bland ground and make all your photog buddies jealous of your skillz.
Perspective Play: Long Shadows from Above
The subject has to depend on the shape of its shadow to explain what it is it, the effect can be quite striking!
The Anonymous Crowd
Shift your perspective and try to capture the crowd’s silhouettes instead. It’s a refreshing change when your candid street shots get in a rut.
Let them duke it out; you’ll release all those angry feelings and there won’t be any black eyes in the morning.
A Little Shadow Lovin’
Pretty much nothing.
Shadow Prints without a Camera!
Have you tried out Sunprint paper yet? It’s light sensitive paper that can make a photo out of any shadow!
Cast a (very steady) shadow on a sheet then dunk it in H2O – easy peasy!
Even More Ideas!
P.S. We like to give credit where credit is due. Big thanks to Dave Bond, Ekaterina Nosenko, Natalie Villalobos, Joel “Boy_Wonder”, Carolyn Cochrane, Stefano Corso, Color de la Vida, Jason E.N., Fadzly Mubin, and procrastinatingxnipples for allowing us to use your photos under Creative Commons licenses or special permission! You guys are awesome!