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The Visual Toolbox: 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographs by David duChemin

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Lesson 44. Juxtaposition: Find Conceptual Contrasts

One of my favorite photographers is Elliott Erwitt. There’s a humor about his images that I’ve never been able to create in my own, despite 12 years as a professional comedian. That humor comes from an impeccable sense of timing and an eye for juxtapositions. Juxtaposition is the long word for the putting-together of elements that contrast with one another conceptually. An old man holding a young child is a juxtaposition of two different ideas: old and young. A portrait of a comedian not laughing but crying: comedy and tragedy. The images that accompany this lesson contain juxtapositions: a full boat next to an empty one, modern next to ancient, Asian rice paddies next to North American–style ...

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