Blog #44 Juxtaposition & Humour in photography
Happy New Year! Welcome back to my blog.
I’m starting off this new year with a blog post to discuss the topic of juxtaposition and humour in photography. Of course these are mutually exclusive events and are not necessarily related but I tend to consider these elements within an image as going well together like chocolate and peanut butter or as Forrest Gump might suggest, peas and carrots.
On the topic of making good images that work, the subject is the most important ingredient. For my piece on subjects that was published on Casual Photophile’s website, click here. Juxtaposition can be viewed either as the subject itself or as a technique that you can employ to draw attention to the subject. It can be obvious or subtle. Juxtaposition can be defined as the placement of two objects next to each other for comparison or contrast. You may include this deliberately or accidentally. Quite often, the results can be quite humorous as well.
Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt is a master of juxtaposition and humour in his images. Below are a few of his that really stand out and illustrate the concept. Surely, most if not all of these were not planned. The use of juxtaposition in the image really makes it pop and provides a strong subject that connects with just about any viewer albeit they are made in a serendipitous manner.
Juxtaposition can be illustrated or accomplished by placing objects or subjects within the frame in an opposite manner that go together or compliment each other. Examples of this might include old and young, big and little, include a pattern of more than two elements, or create a dialogue between the two in some way. Subjects within an image might emulate one another as the images below exemplify. This comparison may be obvious and jump out at you or be more subtle and take a while to identify. In either case, the inclusion of two or more subjects that are obviously related in some way will usually help an image to work and connect with the viewer. The degree to which the subjects are related might be in direct proportion to how well (or unwell) the image works.
So to make images of this kinds you need essentially two parts subject and one part luck. That being said, in the famous words of Edna Mode from Pixar’s The Incredibles, “Luck favours the prepared, darling”. So slip on a comfortable pair of kicks, get outside, and make some magic.
The light is always right.