Juxtaposition in photography is especially valuable if you need to emphasize the contrast of two objects in shape, meaning, color, line, etc. Juxtaposition photography can be a great way to bring a concept to life, to demonstrate a comic or serious situation. Photographers often use this method to make people curious and thoughtful about the scene they see.
Taking juxtaposition photography, you may encounter some problems such as choosing the equipment for shooting and selecting the right settings. Besides, the lack of ideas for such photos could be one of the most important issues. I’ve collected some key tips and creative ideas that will come in handy.
The main goal of this technique is to demonstrate the contrast between two objects. Photographers use the power of composition to achieve what they want. You can benefit from the proper use of props and well-designed perspectives.
This approach is often applied when in movies. A striking example of Juxtapositions is the movie Intouchables. You can’t but remember the two main characters and their contrasting personalities! In fact, our whole life consists of juxtapositions and contrasts.
The contrast between thin and fat people is actively used in media. Besides, you can experiment with other objects in this direction. You can focus on certain objects even in an overloaded frame. As a rule, juxtaposition and contrast are clearly visible in such photographs.
Capture two opposing objects in your picture. One of the easiest ways is to demonstrate the contrast in size. Position the small subject and the large one and photograph them. Strengthen visual juxtaposition by emphasizing the relationship between these subjects.
The juxtaposition of small and large, light and dark is only a small part of the methods available to photographers. Besides, you can capture the scene where a daughter is looking in the mirror when she puts on a colorful dress. Next, you see a black and white picture of her parents on the wall.
Perhaps you may think that it is almost impossible to show something serious with a deep meaning in this type of photography. However, I will give you some ideas.
You can emphasize the difference between social classes. One of the most commonly used scenes is the image of a homeless man in front of a bank. As for me, this concept for juxtaposed images is already too overused and uninteresting.
Color contrast can be advantageously used to emphasize opposites. Experiment with dark and light shades to get unique contrasting photos.
You can implement this idea in different ways. It could be product photography where you take a picture of an old and new thing together. For example, you can take juxtaposition pictures of new and old cameras. It is also a great idea to show the difference in generations (grandmothers with grandchildren).
The difference between background and foreground can be striking. For example, one person may be cheerful while the other doesn’t show any emotions at all.
Everywhere we see natural objects along with man-made things. It is a great idea to capture these contrasts in everyday life. Check out this juxtaposition photography example and see how these oppositions make up an incredible picture.
Modern technologies are developing very fast. Some mechanical objects gradually become old-fashioned and outdated. This can be a great source for various visual juxtapositions. Place together some old things and a new device. This is a great way to create an interesting story about our society.
Take a look at the image below. We see many different architectural styles in the foreground. A huge skyscraper in the background overshadows them. Old and new are great for juxtaposition photographs.
Many of us are fond of antique objects and scenes. If you don’t believe me, look at fashion, art, architecture, music. We sometimes call it retro. It is very interesting when the antique and the modern are compared in one photograph.
Shapes can make images more attractive. Try capturing different shapes in one shot. You can easily find elements to juxtapose among various buildings in the streets. Besides, it is possible to play with a combination of wires and street lights.
You can benefit from using color intensity for juxtaposition in photography. Take a picture of a person wearing a bright jacket or cloak on a cloudy rainy day. Another example of successful contrasting is a shot of a person in dark clothes against a bright wall or other catchy backgrounds.
Playing with colors can be very interesting. Catching the contrast between black and white is a classic technique of juxtaposition in photography. The meaning of these colors is quite wide and goes far beyond the palette.
Taking juxtaposition images of incompatible things is easier than you think. Nature has already thought for us, you only need to take a great shot.
Don’t set the goal of finding juxtapositions. This way, it will be easier for you to notice the opposites and use them for your juxtaposition photos. Just do what you like.
Go deeper into the subject or activity that interests you and have fun. It's easier for me to seecontrasts in the street if I'm looking for some kind of humorous and absurd things.
Don’t try to focus on many subjects. Multitasking won't do you any good for juxtaposition photography. You will lose your concentration and miss the desired object. Taking pictures on the street you may encounter a lot of distracting things.
Don’t pay attention to them and concentrate on the object you are interested in. This way it will be easier for you to analyze if there are things for juxtaposition nearby.
For example, you may notice an attractive unusual background. Continue to watch it and after some time you will get a contrasting subject against it.
Instead of using zoom (as the quality of photos is often lost), get closer to the subject. Stop and look around, clicking the shutter and turning on the zoom. However, remember that people need to be treated with respect, so keep a comfortable distance. Some of the best photos are taken from a very close distance, even a few meters from the center of events. Watch carefully!
Shooting from the hip is a useful method to capture the crucial moment and get amazing juxtaposition pictures. When I first started doing street photography, it was very difficult for me to raise the camera to eye level and point it at strangers.
So I started taking pictures from my hips to get more natural, non-stop images when people don't know that they are photographed. At first, the shots were not very successful.
However, when I trained to shoot in this way and learned how to choose the correct focal length, I managed to capture some great moments.
The success of many juxtaposition photos lies in the element of surprise. In fact, your task is to shoot places and phenomena that are familiar to you but you should show them in a new, unexpected way.
It is like taking a moment, a fragment of a day that will never repeat again. Speaking of spectacular lighting, I mean the game of two opposites: light and darkness, light and shadow. This is just a gold mine for many talented juxtaposition photographers, especially if you shoot in black and white.
You don’t have to limit yourself to two objects when creating contrast. Find three or more objects to make your composition look more interesting. With their help, you can arrange various geometric shapes, such as a triangle. The photo below contains lots of possible contrasts.
Shooting at night in a city can be a great idea for juxtaposition photography. This is not very easy so you need to know about the right settings and equipment to get impressive pictures.
To eliminate blurring, you need to use slow shutter speed. Aperture and ISO also play a key role when photographing in low light conditions.
For long exposures, you need a tripod.
If you do not have this piece of equipment or you cannot take it with you, then a fast aperture lens will help you achieve the desired result in the dark period of a day. Use shadows, lines, and compositions to get unique juxtaposed images during night shooting.
You can also experiment with silhouettes and take nice images with beautiful shadows in the foreground.
If you are watching a specific subject, action or waiting for the crucial moment, choose the burst mode. At a shooting speed of 9 frames per second, you are guaranteed to capture what you want. Only then you can choose the most successful shot when viewing your pictures.
Take pictures of visual juxtaposition in those places where you spend most of your time. It may seem strange or even boring to you, but it’s a really good idea. Even if your area looks unpromising in terms of photography at first glance, you should look around. Many well-known photographers such as Stephen Shore, Lee Friedlander and William Eggleston took their outstanding shots in those places that others passed by.
When doing juxtaposition photography, you must remember that taking a beautiful shot is not the most important thing. Of course, good lighting, the right colors and shades indicate an appropriate level of quality. But snapping a breathtaking picture showing the whole story is not less significant for this genre.
When walking along the streets in search of an interesting object for shooting, you should think not only about the beauty of the subject but also the depth of its meaning, the ability to convey something important to people. Abstract, weird, or gritty pictures shouldn't scare you away.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time setting your camera, you should switch to aperture-priority mode. Then manually select the desired ISO and f-stop (aperture) values. Exposure will be set automatically.
High-quality photo editing is an important stepping stone on the way to successful juxtaposition photography. During shooting you can relax and be spontaneous, but you need to be fully responsible and concentrated when enhancing your images.
If for some reason you cannot edit your photos yourself (for example, you do not have time), I advise you to contact only professional photo retouching services.
Legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson, a great master of street photography and the father of reportage photography, supports this idea. A French photographer was known for sticking shiny parts of his “Leica” with dark tape to remain invisible in the crowd.
Personally, I recommend you to use Sony α7R IV. The camera is very small but its functionality is comparable to bulky DSLR cameras.
This juxtaposition photography advice will be useful not only for novice street photographers who just try out lenses with different focal lengths and are looking for “their own”, but also for professionals, who want to bring something new to their work.
Despite the fact that the idea and its implementation are the most important in juxtaposition photography, you should not forget about image post-processing either. I have prepared for you these free presets, actions and overlays that will help you to edit photos.
This action is suitable for cases when you need to make a portrait, with an emphasis on the face, when he or she poses or is in motion. This will enhance overall colors by neutralizing unnecessary shades and smoothly reducing noise.
Need to edit a photo of people taken on the streets of the city? Then you will not find a better PS action for this task. Suitable for all street shots, it gives them more warmth, contrast and brightness.
This is a great overlay that you can use to correct lighting effects. Using it, you can add pastel tones and fall shine to outdoor photo.
It can be used to edit many images such as wedding, event, fashion, portraits, etc. If you want a free spirit and expressive picture, download this preset.
The vintage effect will add more drama to your juxtaposition photos. So this is the must-have for this genre of photo!