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Assignment S36

When people think of street photography they often think of juxtaposition-artistic contrasts where we have two elements in an image which are opposed to each other. This has always been a big part of street photography-so much so that it’s perhaps in danger of becoming a cliche. 

However, cliche or not, it’s great fun to do and setting out to purposefully spot these contrasts is a great way to develop your powers of observation. This is the purpose of this exercise: use these contrasts-which are all around you-to really “see” the world as a street photographer, picking up details and making connections between people and/or the world around them. 

As well as using physical traits, also look out for contrasting emotions, or even signs (someone eating a burger next to a “healthy eating” poster, for example), and aim for a small series of between four and six photographs taken in either black and white or color. 

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  • When you’re out shooting, walk really slowly, looking at the details around you. 
  • Be prepared to wait. Find the right background and then wait for any other elements you need to come into shot. 
  • Always have your camera switched on and ready to go. 
  • React instantly when you see a possible juxtaposition or interesting connection.

Field Notes

  • Don’t forget your picture needs to look interesting! Sure, a picture of a man placed next to a woman is technically a juxtaposition, but that’s probably not enough to make it a worthwhile picture.
  • This type of street photography is all about observational skills. A good way to help develop these skills is to focus on one thing-the color yellow, for example-and then put all your energy into looking for instances of that color. As well as spotting the color, you will also start to see juxtapositions.