Let’s Have a Laugh! – Using Humor in Photography

Go on! You know it is good for you! Let’s have a laugh! This article is about using humor in photography.

This article is not so much Five Handy Tips, as it is more a case of Three Gentle Nudges. Maybe you are like me and can be a bit too serious about your photography. I am suggesting that you let go a little. Even one photograph which makes you smile has got to be worth letting go, relaxing a little. It may be that it is only you who is caused to smile, but I absolutely think that is worth it on its own. Then again, you might make tens, hundreds, even thousands of others smile. That has got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?

1. It is not that funny

Please notice that above that I said smile, I did not say laugh.

I once asked the teenage daughter of a friend of mine why she liked a particular teacher. She said that the teacher was funny. She gave the example that he would lean against the board, put a piece of chalk in his mouth, and pretend to smoke it as if it were a cigarette. Even 20 years ago, this was a bit dodgy, but the thing which really struck me was … it was NOT that funny! Mildly amusing, worth a smile, but not really what you would call funny.

That may be the first lesson which we need to learn in respect to seeking humor in photography. It is unlikely that you will ever, in your whole life, take a photograph which is going to cause people to roll on the floor, kick their legs in the air, and clutch their ribs with laughter. You will have done very well, to even cause a mild chuckle.

Much more likely is that you will raise a smile. But, frankly, that is enough. I think you should relax about it and be happy to raise one single smile. Surely, if you manage to make just one other person smile, that is a good thing.

2. The great snapshot!

Though I have admitted above that I can be too serious about photography, I have long been a strong advocate of the snapshot. That is a photograph, taken quickly, with little premeditation, with no great artistic pretensions, with any camera which is at hand.

If you have a daughter, it is very likely that you have an image like one the above. I wonder, though, is that image in your mind, or did you actually take the photo? Whether it is your big “proper” camera, your phone, or pocket camera, I would encourage you to abandon all other thoughts. Just get on with it, and take that snapshot.

I would have thought that the above meets most peoples’ definition of a snapshot. It certainly lacks any artistic pretentions. But, a pink Lamborghini has got to be something which makes most people smile, even if they have very little interest in cars.

The fact that it is parked in handicapped reserved parking is only funny because the evidence would seem to be that there was, in fact, plenty of parking available. The whole thing is also somewhat of a reflection of the culture of the location in which it was taken.

Listen to Wayne

One of my favorite quotations was born in ice hockey, but very applicable to photography.

I think this is a good thought to have in your mind for any type of photography. It is especially pertinent in respect of these type of snapshot photographs. Just for a moment, abandon your aspirations as a serious photographer, and simply take the shot. There is almost zero chance of any downside, no negative consequences, and you might just manage to create an extra smile or two in the world.

Read the full article in Digital photography school.

previous / next