Have you ever seen a picture with a punchline? We often read about the story-telling aspect of photography, and what is a joke, after all, but a very, very short story?
Many of my favorite photographers are incredibly funny. Elliott Erwitt’s are photographs are characterized by his lighthearted sense of play; Vivian Maier’s photos often demonstrate a much darker humor at work, and Martin Parr’s images are almost immediately recognizable for his over the top visual wit.
Like the best comedians, photographers who make jokes with their photos must have impeccable timing. If they shoot half a beat too early or too late they might still make a great photo, but the moment of visual humor is often ridiculously brief. Usually, working with the moving parts in street photography, I find I’m too slow and by the time I recognize humor playing out before me and ready my camera, the funniest bit has passed. That doesn’t stop me taking my less funny photograph, though. I shoot anyway, knowing full well that the only thing for improving my timing is a large file of just-missed opportunities, otherwise known as practice.
And I’m not above searching for humor in more cooperative, stationary objects.
Photos reflect not only what photographers see, but how they perceive the world as well. Clearly I’m pretty easily amused. What about you? Do you ever take pictures for the laughs? Do you have a favorite photographer with a sharp wit or slapstick style? Please let me know in the comments.
Keep your eyes wide open,