Everyone enjoys and deserves a great laugh. Laughter is good for the soul: it helps relieve stress and it allows us to temporarily forget about problems. It signifies there’s happiness within and it warms the heart. That’s a lot of positive karma. So, what is it that makes a photo humorous? It can be a funny sign or a frozen moment in time when a person or animal does something comical or awkward. Or, it can be a composite of images created in Photoshop that can be manipulated to give the image a funny appearance, and it can even be derived from the title you give the photo.
If you’re like me, I take my photography very seriously but I’m always open to finding humor in the world. What comes to mind are some of the very funny moments I’ve seen on shows that feature funny home videos. Although many of the situations seem to be setups, who cares if the goal is to make others laugh. Just as in a video image, a still photo can be set up to create an photo with a humorous theme. Case in point is the picture of the statue, camera and tripod. I was teaching a local one-day architectural workshop. One of the locations is known for its Harlequin statues. One of the workshop participants placed his camera in front of the statue and we all burst into hysterics. We then took it to the next level and had people stand in front of the lens and had them smile. It was as if the statue was making portraits of the real people. It was a great moment.
When trying to capture humorous situations with people or animals as the subjects, you have to be ready at all times and quick with your shutter finger to freeze the moment of greatest impact. The situation often involves action that dictates the use of a fast shutter speed. Bump the ISO up on your digital camera to allow this. Quite funny images of people or pets can be made via the use of very wide angle lenses. Get close to the subject to create extreme distortion. Whatever resides closest to the lens will look a lot larger than it really is. The classic image that comes to mind is one where a person is depicted with a huge nose and very rounded face. If you have a 20mm or wider lens, place it on your camera, focus it at its closet point, and move toward your subject until the face comes into focus and you’ll instantly see the effect. It also works to make funny images of dogs and cats.
The last shot that accompanies this article, is a collaboration between my son and me. We were out in the middle of nowhere and came across an old abandoned rusted piece of metal. It was obviously used as target practice by some of the locals evidenced by the three bullet holes. My son added a flower to the center one and a face began to evolve. The rust mark that became the tongue naturally fell into place when I scratched a U-shaped smile onto the surface. It provided a light-hearted moment between the two of us and we each made the photo. While it’s nice to always come home with serious winners from every photo session, it’s also important to let loose every once in a while and look for light-hearted events. Keep this in mind every time you go out to photograph.