portait of woman with black background

Easy steps to shoot black background portraits

You might have come across some photographs with pitch black background with great detail and clarity on the subject. Have you wondered how the photo was shot or can you do it too? Well, that’s what this blog is about.

The technique used is also known as ‘The Invisible Black Backdrop‘. In this technique, the basic idea is to capture the light introduced by the flash, on the subject – and capture no other light. Hence everything in the background becomes pitch black.

Getting The Black Backdrop

portrait of a girl with black background - face shot

  1. Put the camera in Manual mode to control ISO, aperture and shutter speed
  2. Set the camera’s ISO to the lowest number (Lower ISO means fewer grains in the picture)
  3. Set the shutter speed to maximum sync speed at which the camera and the flash can work together properly ( Typically 1/200 of a second to 1/250 of a second)
  4. Aperture is the ‘f ‘ number on the camera. Capture few shots at different apertures and see the result. The objective is to get a totally black image
  5. The last part is the ‘Flash’, without which this type of photograph is not possible. You can have best results with reflective umbrella at 50 to 60-degree angle. Depending upon the type of effect you want, increase or decrease the intensity of the triggered flash
  6. You may shoot without umbrella also, but it will result in sharp shadows. You can try shooting out-doors in the evening, just after sunset. You may be able to use evening light and lower the flash intensity. But such pictures may require some work on image processing software like Gimp or Photoshop to get the black background


  • You can also use a black background for best results
  • Avoid shooting indoors – the light may bounce off the walls and interfere with the image

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