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A Fun Photography Shoot Using Cut Outs

Updated on October 8, 2013
CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

This should be a fun photo shoot just like any photo shoot should be enjoyed by the photographer as well as by his subjects. However, this particular one is really fun and you will probably be more than surprised at the resulting images.

It simply involves some arts & crafts projects, silhouette some forms, some basic photo lamps, a tripod, your camera and the most important element which is that thing between your ears and inside your skull; the brain in case you didn't get it.

This is best done in a studio or darkened room or anywhere where you have control of the illumination. The best materials are construction paper like the one used by school age children. It should be black. You will probably need some sharp scissors or sharp utility knife and a stable base where to cut the designs. Be mindful that the main silhouette should be cut into, not from it, a large piece of material.

Black project boards make the best materials, just make sure that they are painted in a non glossy paint. This will be the design that will form your backdrop.

Next, using smaller material or any other shape which seems pleasing to you, place it in front of the larger material. Then use one photo flood lamp placed close to the design and on the back. The illumination will only show through the cut out. By placing both figures; one in back of the other you can be really creative and create unimaginable designs. Remember that in your photos the shapes will be the only things showing so don't worry about being an artist and painting designs on any of them.

One example would be a cut out of a crescent moon as a backdrop with a silhouette of a flower or person in front. Once photographed it becomes one main image. In other words; cut out a design on one of the boards, shine a light at it from behind so what you see is the shape. Next place another subject (an opaque shape) in front of the cut out and record the image.

With this technique you can basically do very unrealistic photographs, very creative ones or just plain strange one. Basically there is no limit other than what you impose upon yourself.

Other variations include doing a cutout such as one in the shape of a flower, illuminate it from behind, sit a subject or model in front, illuminate it as you normally would and take the shot. The resulting image would appear as if the model was in front of a giant flower and so on.

Another variation is to use this cut out in front of a subject through which you will aim your lens and photograph whatever is behind it. This way allows you to record images that are framed by the shape you made on the board. Again, this opens up a realm of possibilities that are only limited by your imagination. If doing the project this way it is best to conduct it at night so that only the shape is visible and not the material from which it was made.

One often used technique is to cut out small "star" shaped holes in a large board, shine a light through the back, and photograph a model in front of it. The resulting images will appear as if having "star bursts". This is often used for commercial photography shoots.

Another variation to the technique is to make the cut outs on translucent and colored rigid cellophane boards. Not only will you have a cut out design through which to record an image but the edges and anything on the rim of the design will take on the color of the material.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Most of the resulting images will probably be used for tutorials in creative effects, some specialized photographic publications and greeting card publishers. Really good images can also be used in fine art galleries presentations.

I strongly suggest that you browse through some publications that carry these type of images and greeting card products to gather some ideas and take it from there.

If you want to see more images that are representational of this technique a search for special effect photographic filters may yield some very interesting results as they are used for similar situations and purposes.

Keep in mind that many of these filters are easy DIY projects requiring nothing more than a small piece of black construction paper attached to the front of the lens.

Just be creative with your work and it never hurts to draw or sketch some ideas as to how you want your images to look. This will serve to refresh your memory.


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    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting and thanks for sharing.

      Take care


    • mymoonlog profile image

      mymoonlog 6 years ago from Bosnia-Hercegovina name is 007

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      This is a fun photo shoot idea. It is perfect for Valentine's Day using the heart cut-out effect. Your photos are awesome and I am sure you had lots of fun shooting the images. Love the pink hearts in your last photo. Voted up!

    • mymoonlog profile image

      mymoonlog 6 years ago from Bosnia-Hercegovina

      Thanks so much..I am happy..