Supriya Joshi encourages you to look at the world through rose-tinted glasses, and embrace life’s funny moments by employing humour in your images.
Back in 2008, the late Heath Ledger delivered an unforgettable dialogue as The Joker in the movie The Dark Knight. “Why so serious?” he asked, giving the viewers a catchphrase which is often used for people who may be feeling solemn. So, as photographers reading this, today I ask you, why so serious? As a medium, humour is just as effective as getting your message across. Why shy away from it? The word ‘funny’ is subjective, but your interpretation of it is what will make your photos unique.
Capturing a Memory
Think about the last time you had a really good laugh, and there is a strong chance that the memory is from a time you spent with your close ones. The next time there is a gathering of your friends or family, make lots of photos. Make your subjects enact silly poses, wear costumes and hold props. Importantly, remember to get in the photos yourself as well! The activity may seem frivolous today, but 10 years down the line, revisiting these photos will make you smile… which is photography’s ultimate purpose, isn’t it?
Find inspiration from what you think is funny. A good joke can just as easily translate to your images as well.
A Means of Satire
What is satire, but a means to humourously look at our society for what it truly is? Everyday life and its various flavours can be represented best with the use of humour in photography. The contrasts of various cultures in big metropolises and funny posters juxtaposed with serious surroundings are just some of the potential subjects you can find humour in. You could also combine stray animals with movie posters or signboards for comic relief!
Don’t Force it!
The most important thing about trying to be funny is to also be respectful of the subject. Remember that your goal is to laugh with the subject, not at it. Think twice before you release the shutter… if you are having second thoughts about how your frame will be perceived by others, or if the particular photo seems to be in bad taste, don’t shoot, as you could get into trouble or even hurt someone. Just remember that you will find better opportunities at another time.
The gear you use is not important. You can create a humourous photo story with a 2MP camera as well.
…But Don’t Let Go Either!
Just like any genre of photography, this one takes a lot of patience as well, perhaps more so. There will be many times that you will find a potentially humourous moment, lacking an element that would just elevate the photo if it were present in it. So, wait it out as much as you can. For instance, your photo of a gorgeous sunset at the beach could be made even better with let’s say, a little girl walking her pet dog, who is wearing a costume.
Every Idea Counts
Don’t ever let go of a concept, despite how over the top or inexecutable you think it is. Take a look at Sacha Goldberger’s series Super Mamika, where he has immortalised his grandmother in the form of a superhero or Dave Engledow’s World’s Best Father, which shows him with his daughter in hilarious moments. If you have a funny photo idea in mind, just go forth and shoot it, without overthinking it.
You don’t need to be a funny person to shoot funny pictures. Life is filled with humour as it is… your only job is to recognise and capture those amusing moments.
Just Have Fun!
Not every moment warrants a funny photograph. However, with just by a slight shift in your perspective, you can find that even the most serious situations will house a light-hearted moment. Some of the most memorable images have come from photographers who have stepped out of the mould of expectation and have presented issues in a lighthearted manner.
If you are at a loss for subjects, start with your family. There will always be a relative who makes you smile.
Approaching photography with a dash of humour is just having fun with it. If you’re having a good time when you are making pictures, and if you can get your message across, even if it is satirical in nature, the resulting images can be quite powerful.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Better Photography.