In photography, lighting plays a significant role in determining the quality and mood of a photograph.

The way the light interacts with the subject and the background can make or break a picture.

One such technique that has been gaining popularity in recent times is Contre-jour photography.

The term Contre-jour translates to “against daylight” in French and refers to the technique of shooting a subject against the light source.

In this article, we will delve into the art of Contre-jour photography and explore how one can capture stunning images using this technique.

Understanding Contre-Jour Photography

Contre-jour photography is a technique that involves shooting a subject against the light source.

The light source can be any natural light source like the sun or artificial light sources like lamps or streetlights.

The purpose of this technique is to create a silhouette or a backlit effect.

The subject, in this case, appears as a dark shape against the bright background.

When done correctly, Contre-jour photography can produce stunning and dramatic images.

Tips for Shooting Contre-jour Photography

  1. Find the Right Light Source

The first step in capturing a great Contre-jour photograph is finding the right light source.

This can be challenging, as the light source needs to be behind the subject.

When shooting outdoors, the sun can be an excellent light source for this technique.

However, it’s important to avoid shooting during the mid-day when the sun is at its highest point, as this can create harsh shadows.

Early morning or late afternoon is the ideal time to capture a Contre-jour photograph outdoors.

  1. Choose the Right Subject

The subject of the photograph plays an essential role in Contre-jour photography.

The subject should be interesting and have a distinct shape that is easily recognizable.

Try to choose a subject that has a well-defined outline, like a tree, a person, or an animal.


The subject should be positioned in such a way that it blocks the light source, creating a silhouette effect.

  1. Use the Right Camera Settings

Using the right camera settings is crucial when shooting Contre-jour photography.

The camera’s exposure settings need to be adjusted to compensate for the bright background.

One way to do this is by using spot metering.

Spot metering allows you to meter the light on the subject and not the background.

This helps to prevent overexposure and ensures that the subject appears as a dark shape against the bright background.

  1. Experiment with Composition

Composition is an essential aspect of any photograph, and Contre-jour photography is no exception.

Experiment with different angles and compositions to create a unique and interesting image.

Try to position the subject off-center to create a more dynamic composition.

You can also try shooting through other objects like leaves or branches to add depth to the image.

  1. Post-Processing

Post-processing is an essential step in Contre-jour photography.

The image may need some adjustments to bring out the details in the subject.

You can use photo editing software like Photoshop or Lightroom to adjust the exposure, contrast, and color balance of the image.


However, it’s important not to overdo it, as this can ruin the natural and dramatic effect of Contre-jour photography.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Contre-jour Photography


Creates Dramatic Images:

Contre-jour photography can produce stunning and dramatic images that are hard to achieve with other techniques.

Adds Depth:

Shooting against the light source can add depth and dimension to the image, making it more interesting and dynamic.

Unique Perspective:

Contre-jour photography provides a unique perspective on the subject that is not possible with other techniques.



Can be Challenging:

Shooting against the light source can be challenging, especially for beginners.

It requires a good understanding of lighting and camera settings.


If not done correctly, Contre-jour photography can result in overexposure, making the subject appear washed out and lacking detail.

Limited Subject Matter:

Contre-jour photography works well with certain subjects like trees, animals, and people.

It may not be suitable for other subjects like buildings or landscapes.

Contre-Jour Photography – Wrapping Up

Contre-jour photography is a unique and creative technique that can produce stunning and dramatic images.

It requires a good understanding of lighting, camera settings, and composition.

With the right subject, lighting, and camera settings, Contre-jour photography can produce images that are hard to achieve with other techniques.

Whether you are a beginner or a professional photographer, Contre-jour photography is worth exploring to add a unique perspective to your portfolio.