Showcase Of Beautiful Shadow Photography


By Daved Brosche and Smashing Editorial Team

Shadows can add a lot to a photograph. They can emphasize emotions, create surreal images, and be used in a variety of ways. While strong use of shadows in color photographs tends to be mostly used in silhouettes, it can also appear in a variety of other forms in color photos as well. In my opinion though, shadows are most powerful when used in black and white photographs.

Below we present a showcase of truly outstanding photos that make strong use of shadows in a variety of ways. All images are linked to the sources where they were found. Please feel free to explore further works of photographers showcased in this post.

You may also be interested in the following related posts:

45 Beautiful Examples Of Shadow Photography

Ricky Montalbano6
Just a neat, artistic picture of a skateboarder and his shadow.




Philippe Sainte-Laudy10




Vic Nicholas14


John Sloan16


Vilhjálmur Ingi Vilhjálmsson18






Thomas Mues24


Bill Hinton26


TJ Scott28


Valerie (pearceval)30


Gazza or Garry32


Darvin Atkeson34


F. A. Ecker36


William Hundley38




Kap’n’Kaos (Mike)42


Jason Swain44


Lara Fairie46
A stunning silhouette of a beautiful young lady. The light and shadows here create and excellent beauty shot.


Paul Bredow48


Rosie Hardy50
A very creative use of shadows to help portray a powerful feeling and emotion in this picture.


Massi Miliano52
A combination of deep shadows, dark colors, creativity, and perfect time make for a very interesting and surreal photo.


David Herreman54
“View from the top of ‘Levant Terril’ at Mons in Belgium. A ‘terril’ is a hill made from mining waste. There are still a lot of them in the old mining regions like Mons, now being appreciated as green areas. I’ve used a ND1000 filter in order to have an ‘evening effect’ even if the sun was high in the sky. This is NOT a tone-mapped HDR but a digital blending of 3 exposures. The main exposure was of 30 sec.”


Alonso Díaz56




Leley Noronha60


Fred Eerdekens62




Katarina Stefanovic66


Kevin McNeal68


Josh Exell70




Michael McAreavy74


Watari Goro76
Original picture – no Photoshop or image manipulation is used.








Sarah France84


Create use of shadows to create some abstract tears.


Last Click

Joshua Liberman88


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  1. 1

    Very Cool! Michael McAreavy’s picture of the trees is my favorite.

  2. 2

    have a nice spring everyone. inspiring photos.

  3. 3

    Dallas Web Design

    March 1, 2009 3:55 pm

    Those photos are amazing!

  4. 4

    Indeed the shadows give to the pictures some kind of mystery or even a surreal air :)
    Nice pictures!

  5. 5

    these are real amazing & inspirational !

  6. 6

    Shadows are like negative space. Reminds me the Dali Atomicus photo. Great post!

  7. 7

    Inspiring. Amazingly creative use of shadow and light.

  8. 8

    Nice :)

  9. 9

    Damn beautiful. I like the shadow within the trees.

  10. 10

    Wow-Great pictures-beautiful!!! I love the shadows!!

  11. 11

    I do dislike when obvious fakes are used in examples of great work. There are at least 3 up there that are physicly impossible to have actally happened. Not that i dont give credit for good photoshop work, or the relevance of useful photoshopping in fake shadows to enhance an image.

  12. 12

    amazing !

  13. 13

    Excellent, it’s may be my inspiration. Thanks!

  14. 14

    Not all of them are higher quality.
    A lot is known ‘middle of the road’.

  15. 15

    Wow! Love the skaterpic and the one from teddymb.

  16. 16

    Great photos!

    This photo by Erik Hedman is also very nice!

  17. 17

    Nice photos, but I’m quite sure the airplane was painted on that wall ;)

  18. 18

    once again a very nice collection.
    thank you

  19. 19

    A.B.C. Photography

    March 2, 2009 1:14 am

    I would reduce that to 25 maximum.

  20. 20

    ultimate collection!

  21. 21

    Beautiful pictures!
    I’m really impressed.

  22. 22

    Wow, Cool Cool Post and Awesome Photography !

  23. 23

    Something wrong with boy’s hand at the shadow xD
    Although, very good showcase.

    Короче, ахуенно.

  24. 24

    wow, what a great assortment. That water tower with the trees is really slick.

  25. 25

    Some beautiful images, shadows bring life to any image and can create great atmosphere. I would say shadow is important for everything from photography to illustration and even web design.

  26. 26

    Nice pictures. :)

  27. 27

    joyoge designers' bookmark

    March 2, 2009 5:31 am

    very nice examples of shadow photography, thanks for share..

  28. 28

    As with all photography topics. Many of the submitted images aren’t photographs. I.e. it is not captured moment in time. With or without editing.
    There is no original negative, slide or digital raw image.
    Many are dreamt up scenes based on one or more stock images (and I doubt if these were shot by the poster) with heavy editing, sharpening, color boosting etcetc.
    On future photography topics a check for originals should be applied. These originals should then be posted along with the published image. Otherwise don’t call it photography.

  29. 29

    Another cool post,the tree and fog one is my favorite….a feeling of being lost in
    childhood memories.

  30. 30

    @Anjte… By the above comments, I think it’s a pretty safe bet you are a photographer. As a graphic designer myself, don’t you find it a bit fickle to say these images aren’t photographs. I mean an image is an image, plain and simple. And, I find it hard to believe that the large majority of even full-time, traditional photographers are not using Photoshop these days. Hell if you’re not, you’re wasting time. IMO, I don’t want to see the negative, raw image, or shots that haven’t been brought into their full potential. I think the digital work on several of these is what made them memorable, or worthy of posting. Take them for what they are, good inspiration, and if you think you can duplicate the effectiveness with “captured moments in time,” then please by all means do so, and submit them to SM.

    I think everyone is getting a little tired of photographers being so defensive on here. We live in a digital age, and you either embrace it, or get run over by it.

  31. 31

    Some beautiful images, but you guys are a little confused about entoptic phenomena. It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with covering people in sheets. (That’s so far off, it’s actually kind of ridiculous)

  32. 32

    @Mark… I am a designer and a photographer. I respect a well laid out digital composition, but at the end of the day, thats not a photograph. Showing a photo that someone took that captured a split second of beauty, sompared to someone who spent hours laboring on the computer to achieve, only cheapens them both. As a designer, I have spent hours retouching professional photographers photos, slimming people, removing wires, slimming people, removing reflections, and at the end, it gets listed as an “awesome photo” taken by X photographer. This cheapens my work… The same goes the other way. half the photos up there could ahve been digitally made, but they werent, they were captured in the money, usually by a photographer spending hours waiting for the right moment, just to be displayed next to an obvious photoshoped image being displayed as “great photography”…. As both designer, and a photographer, i want both of my skills recognized individually.

    If you dont want photographers to get defensive, dont say “photographs” just say “digital compositions”. If you want to ignore that there is a difference, then stop specifying one or the other… or, if your showing “photos” the person collecting them should make an effort not to post obvious fakes.

  33. 33

    Fred Eerdekens photos are my fav!

  34. 34

    heather van de mark

    March 2, 2009 10:28 am

    I think Chris has a very valid point. We should give credit where and how it’s deserved. And as communicators of messages, we should all understand the importance that language plays–such as the difference between an image, a photograph and a digital composite. Perhaps this is just one area that SM could benefit from strengthening.

    A lot of these are spectacular images (and photographs (?)) which do provide great inspiration. So thanks SM.

  35. 35

    uh oh, more whiney-ass ‘holier-than-thou; don’t-call-this-photography bs.’ somebody better call the WAaaaaAAAhhhmmbulance!

    people are such bitches at times.

  36. 36

    Just to preface my next comment, please realize I enjoy this type of debate over traditional vs. modern formats for producing art, and constructive criticism is more than welcome. But… this is where my dilemma falls. (And this article does have some questionable examples of my point). But I agree with Brian that some of this is pretty “whiney-ass” for an inspiration related post.

    If a traditional photographer has to wait for hours just to capture the perfect moment in time for an image to be effective, and a digital artist can achieve the same effect with skill in deception, in a fraction of the time (assuming it is accurately and artistically well done), then why does the digital artist not get to call it a “photograph?” Seems like kind of an archaic thought process to me.

    Example: Typing and printing a letter on a typewriter might take twice as long as typing and printing it on a computer, but at the end of the day, the result is still considered a letter no matter how modern or old-fashioned the process was for creating it. Should we call one a letter, and the other a “digital composition.”

  37. 37
  38. 38

    You guys generally pick good images, but every time I read a smashing writer talking about photography it pains me to read how unsophisticated their knowledge and views on the subject are.

    I could forgive that a lot easier if the writers weren’t trying so hard to present themselves as a beacon of knowledge on the subject.

  39. 39

    As for photos vs graphic design.

    A photographer is one who photographs.

    Therefore if everyone taking a photo is a photographer, a photo must come from a photographer.

    And yet someone remixing other people’s stock, has not taken a photo. At the very least they shouldn’t be credited as having done so.

  40. 40

    A photograph is when the image is written by light. In a brief moment of time. “the decisive moment” quoting HCB.
    A painting on cloth is not a photograph and neither is drawing on paper. So neither is a computer assisted drawing/painting like image in a file.
    Recently a newspaper wildlife photographer was sacked because he had cloned a few deer in his picture, he claimed his son had done that without telling him :) Some Reuter photographer/partner was kicked out because he cloned a falling bomb to juice up drama a bit. I am not sure if the iranian photographer was sacked because he cloned a rocket with smoke launching. Maybe it was on orders :)
    So to people in real life it is quite clear what a photo is and what is not.

    Being clever with photoshop is not making photographs. Putting birds where they weren’t before or extremely unrealistic coloring of skies and what have you is not photographing.
    Also why don’t these publishers mention where the image came from? Are they entitled stock image republishers, I doubt it. Publishing these photos is a liabilty for this website and German law is quite strickt on authoring rights. Before you know it owners can be fined and be selling their cars or houses.

    BTW Like James Brown in a case about paying for sampling his music and the samplers didn’t want to pay because they easily could have used some other music. “Then please sample that other music”. Well they didn’t because that was as good.

    BTW Letter writing is putting text on paper. So what is the point of naming two machine types? Could be done by hand too. And a pro on a typewriter is likely much faster then anybody else on a computer with a wordprocessor. Ink and typewriter are much more durable than electrostatic printing methods. Or certainly more than a PDF which likely nobody can track back after 6 months unless there is special archiving software available.

    BTW Remarkable on other topics about design how people think they are so clever using computers while when shown graphic designs from the 30-ies or 70-ies their jaws drop wide open. “How could they ever have achieved these images”

  41. 41

    and not to drag this out (even though thats what it is doing)..

    I first was sent an article from SM, Titled 50 Amazing Examples of Tilt Shift Photography. in the opening statement, it discusses how it is a “creative and unique type of photography “. Then in the examples, there are at least 5 obvious digital recreations.

    @ Mark, I totally agree… A letter on a typewriter is no better when printed than a letter from a word processor. And your example would be flawless if the title was “Great letters” However once you DEFINE it into a specific style, eg: “30 examples of Typewriter Art” or “Remington Typewriter Art”, then the examples created in illustrator no longer fit. Once you try and define it, and you post fakes, you open yourself up to criticizm. If the title is “Works of art drawn in Blood” and there is a red photoshop peice up there, that would be an issue.

  42. 42

    ps: the images are always good. But there are times when you are looking at images, amazed because that shot ACTUALLY happened, and that guy was ACTUALLY there to capture it, and that makes you feel a certain beauty in the world that what your looking at is truely amazing. Then you look at the next one and its a fake, and it makes you wonder how many of the others were fakes too. Cheapens the beauty.

  43. 43

    Great collection and I like the REAL photograph of the chain link fence on snow, because I took it.
    Thanks for selecting and have a great day/night.

  44. 44

    Just because some of these images were enhanced or created digitally does not make them any less striking, creative or artistic. There is, however, a difference between a photograph and an image. Monet’s paintings of his gardens aren’t photographs, but they are spectacular pieces of art – as is any of Ansel Adams’ photographs. But the two are not interchangeable.

    The bottom line is, talent is talent – whether it’s behind the lens, behind the paintbrush or behind the keyboard.

  45. 45

    A very nice collection ..
    I’m the photographer of the skeletal leaf shadow, and did use photoshop a little to enhance the shadow contrast. I wondered why this shot had been getting so many views today!

  46. 46

    I didn’t want to drag out these comments any further, but I must say I greatly appreciated the genuine discussion provided by @Anjte and @Chirs… thank you. All too often reactions only consist of “Great Post” or “Amazing Article” and I don’t really see how those shed any further light on what is being said, or inferred in the posts. Varying viewpoints are a little more up my alley, as a good critique normally starts with some negatives, not all positives…

  47. 47

    instead of thanking to smashingmagazine, first thank to these awesome photographers. Smashing magazine only bringing them together in their articles but they are getting all the credit. Even people thanking to smashingmagazine for javascript libraries. LOL!!!!

  48. 48

    i am korean photographer
    no speak english ..
    but i know great!!
    only respect .(?) ^^;

  49. 49

    Nice collection! The camels (2005) are missing:

  50. 50

    Great pictures! tks for sharing

  51. 51

    amazing pix!

  52. 52

    Ignatz Horowitz

    March 3, 2009 7:16 am

    Mediocre at best, but certainly (kinda) better than the “fantastic” HDR crap that’s on this site.

  53. 53

    It is intresting to think what is really important: the result or the way to achieve it? It seems that the technical side of artwork is really important for many. But isn’t it true that a true piece of art should affect us emotionally so strongly that we don’t pay any attention to the technique, at least for a while?

    But anyway I think it is important to be honest and not to hide the fact of any “serious” manipulation.

    Here (Link []) I created a fake shadow using a different photo of mine, taken in the same place. I did it because it was meant as a CD cover and actually I replaced another bird’s shadow which was in the same place, but a bit awkward. But I cannot include it in my photographic portfolio. And now I have a problem how to call it…

  54. 54

    great photos!..

    found more shadow photography here Link [AYOFOTO! Photo Challenge - Shadow]..

  55. 55

    I love SM, but am seriously turned off by the photogs who frequently comment without considering context. The perspective from which these articles are presented aims to inspire the use of smashing images in web design and development, not to uphold the puritan values of traditional photography. Your comments that consider this perspective are welcome and useful, any others are not.

  56. 56

    Who are you to say what is and isn’t welcome Tp? Whether you are right or not, your points are cheapened by appointing yourself the welcome police.

    If you don’t like the comments but love the articles, then read the articles.

    I read stupid crap like I can has cheezeburger, but there is no way in hell I’d read the drivel that people post in the comments.

  57. 57

    I am a designer, very useful to me.
    Very nice examples of shadow photography. thanks

  58. 58


    @ Nice collection! The camels (2005) are missing:
    Link []
    Strange how these shadows are so sharp over the full length of 5-6 meters. And then photographed from such a distance. Normally poles of 5-10 cm have hardly a core shadow left when projected by the sun and at these distance.

    Considering the general discussion:
    Remarkable how people want to enhance their creations by mirroring it to film/cinema or photography. And expect the appreciation which normally comes to these.

    For example: untrue images are a problem when travelling. From a magazine or guide you build expectations and when you get to a loactions it proves all a bit less. Skies aren’t as colored and space is far less. The reserve hasn’t as many animals, herds are smaller. This has always been problem with guides . Wide-angles are of all-time but now the simplest of publication like on website are completely untrustworthy.

    Remarkable how some expect this to be their right when creating publications. But the law and common acceptable beheaviour will in the end envelope the web too. It may take few court cases or refunded travellers.

  59. 59

    Amazing pictures!

  60. 60

    the one from nuuttipukki is ace

  61. 61

    I wonder if the photograph by Katarina Stefanovic is not a montage. The mountains are lit from the left and the moon is lit from the right ;)) Not that it really mattered artistically but worth noting all the same.

  62. 62

    Impossible moon positions and sizes are classic montage errors. Happened in the old times too. I.e. on film and in the darkroom

  63. 63

    i really like this post.

  64. 64

    Nice one!
    Even though the plane isn’t (wasn’t) a shadow but a temporary mural painting in Berlin.

  65. 65

    awesome post…my favs are deadstar, Sarah France and Gloredel.

  66. 66

    As one of the featured photographers, I’d just like to say thanks for dropping by my flickr account and dipping your toes in my stream, it is very much appreciated

    @ingatz – you had many images posted on here or else where ?

    ohh yes and its so trendy to HDR bash …….

  67. 67

    wonderful creations of photography,very realistic.

  68. 68

    even im a beginner in the world of photography,i appreciate all the pictures.

  69. 69

    wow….thats all I have to say!
    these are absolutely stunning

  70. 70

    Wow. I’m looking for a model artist for my NCEA level 3 photography board and these are just amazing, absolutely brilliant I must say. But they do look so well times and placed with the lighting so good and the colouring amazing they seem some what too edited. But great skills never the less. I will be using this artist for sure.

  71. 71

    these are superb. thanks for sharing. I’ve got a good one on my flickr photostream. Hate link dropping but I thought it’d be relevent. Delete if you want SM

  72. 72

    I’m curious as to whether you got the permission from any of these photographers to use their photos? I know some of them and it’s seeming that you have not when the photos are clearly marked all rights reserved.

  73. 73

    Those picture Are very beautiful and amazing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  74. 74

    D'vorah Berkowitz

    January 29, 2012 10:10 am

    The little girl with the balloon. we are looking for shadow photography to use in creating a learning environment at school. Is this photo copyrighted and if yes can we use it giving credit?

  75. 75

    Wow. These are awesome. My favorites are Thomas Mues,Gazza or Garry,Jason Swain and David Herreman


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