Episode 4 of my Instant Inspirations (links to Editions 1-3 at the end of this post) is about a photographic composition technique that for the casual shooter seems as complex as the word that describes it: Juxtaposition. With Juxtaposition you bring together two or more objects in a photograph that attract the viewer of the image either through their similarity or their contrast. In each case, the photograph works because these elements combine to a joint visual story that the image carries in addition to the visual weight of the individual objects. To find out more about how you can bring Juxtaposition into your photography and for more visual examples continue reading after the jump….
Juxtaposition can be found in similarities or contrast in texture, color, scale or age. Juxtaposition can also be found in the irony an image carries (e.g. a cat snuggling with a dog). Compositionally the individual objects can be placed side by side, above or below, or appear layered, on top of each other or placed as foreground, middle ground and background. Juxtapositions can be actively pursued, for example in finding a suitable background and waiting for a contrasting (or similar fitting) subject to appear, as in the title image of this post. Or by combining two different objects by perspective to a combined element that has a strange/ironic appearance like the example below (I know it’s not the perfect shot but I think you get the point).
Sometimes, Juxtapositions emerge by a chance appearance of two elements, then you need to be ready to take the photograph as long as the situation exists. Also many times, we shoot Juxtapositions unconsciously because the combination of different elements in one frame visually attracts us, and only later we discover that it is the contrast or the similarity of elements that made us take the photo.
In the example below it was the similarity of the textures of the roof tiles of this Italian house to the textures of the vines in the valley below, as well as the lines of the tiles that seemingly continue in the vineyards some hundred feet below in the valley.
Juxtapositions can be found everywhere. You will be amazed how much you discover when you actively look for them. So next time to suffer from photographers block and want to try something new to overcome it go out and shoot a series of Juxtapositions. The more you train your eye to see them the more you can use them as an effective element in your photography.
You are invited to share your results and experiences using the comments below! Go out and have fun!