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Summer is here and an academic year I thought to never end, finally made space for holidays (or working on my research projects). While bigger events are in preparation in growing the family from 3 to 4, I am back writing posts for the blog. From time to time, I was able to write and program posts in advance, but the last weeks were busy – so this week I noticed that the post on traveling and flying was actually the last one in the pipeline. 

Unfortunately, I did not get out as much for taking photos as I wished recently – work and family preparations – and saw the moments for street photography reduced to a couple of minutes or 1 or 2 hours maximum, when taking walks with my daughter. Usually, I try to really get one complete day off for staying out in the streets with my camera. Luckily, however, I took some few shots which I really liked. The one I am sharing this week is directly linked to the post’s title – happiness – and deals with an aspect of (street) photography I did not talk about until now: juxtaposition.

Juxtaposition in street photography

Dealing with juxtaposition means actually nothing else than making contrasts and contradictions an integral part of the photograph. Juxtaposition basically happens when the photographer places two (or more) contrasting objects, images, or ideas together with the aim that this contrast between the two or more gets emphasized.

Personally, I found it extremely difficult to craft that kind of photos for a long time since my journey into street photography. As my approach to street photography was what I personally defined for myself as people-centered, I spent my time in the streets looking for individuals standing out from the crowd. Becoming aware of the subject in relation to the background of the scene was a major step forward in my journey, but was hard to make. What you can usually read on that topic on blogs and in books on street photography is being patient. In many cases, the background of the scene (e.g., an ad billboard in the street) is discovered beforehand. The idea is then to stick around with the camera ready to take the shot and to wait for the right person(s) to walk by.

An attempt in juxtaposition – Smile Everyday

In the picture below, the situation was quite different. I was in the city center with my parents, my partner, and our daughter and had the camera with me for family shots as well as (if time) street snaps. So, chatting with my family, constantly keeping an eye on my daughter, and potentially anticipating an interesting scene around, was probably not the most fertile ground for juxtaposition.

But when we were waiting for my daughter getting a balloon, I spotted a man with his smartphone in the hand, a fancy hat, and an interesting look. However, the scene was somewhat what I already have taken too often on photos. Until – probably a couple of seconds later – a man wearing a t-shirt came closer. The lettering on the shirt said “Smile Everyday” in capitals. I quickly oriented the camera around my neck towards the scene (no time for changing any settings) and push the button.

Smile everyday | 2018

I am really happy with the picture – especially given the circumstances, which did not seem to be highly beneficial for that kind of photos. Sometimes, you cannot force it and often, a little bit of luck combined with wide opened eyes is very helpful as well.    

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