Definition of contre-jour in English:


adjective & adverb

  • Having or involving the sun or other light source behind the subject.

    [as adjective] ‘a glorious contre-jour effect’
    [as adverb] ‘it is recommended not to use the film contre-jour’
    • ‘He was obviously deeply intrigued by Raeburn's contre jour experiments of the early 1790s, and he carried out similar experiments himself.’
    • ‘The term "contre jour" applies to photographs taken towards a light source, usually the sun.’
    • ‘Among the five paintings is a luminous sunlit summer landscape, all the more effective by the children who inhabit it being painted contre-jour.’
    • ‘You can see how in this contre-jour scene the dark shadows have been lifted.’
    • ‘The drawings explore patterns of light and shade and contre jour effects of trees silhouetted against the sun.’
    • ‘The backlight mode for this camera doesn't work particularly well in a contre-jour portrait situation.’
    • ‘Shoot toward the light, but expose on your subject—this is the famous contre-jour that can give your model a nice golden glare and will make the photo more abstract.’
    • ‘Her album features a winsome portrait shot contre-jour, external light washing over her.’


Early 20th century: French, from contre against + jour daylight.