Very Upper Arm

By Roger (13 Mar 2014)

While you're thinking of putting emotion and feeling into your photos, don't forget the stepchild of artistic attitudes – humor. As “serious” artists, we prefer to concentrate on “deeper and more meaningful” topics. OK, I'll buy that, but we don't have to confine ourselves to only those serious subjects. Photos that make you smile can, also, have deep and meaningful effects. How else can you explain all the inane kitten and puppy photos that clog the interwebs?

Humor can be a hard topic because there are so many interpretations of what is funny, and these vary from person to person and place to place. There are no guaranteed formulas to evoke laughter or even a chuckle. I've seen this in my own family. I consider myself to be riotously funny, but my children frequently just roll their eyes at my antics and jokes. I'm not sure why they are so challenged, but I'm pretty sure it's my wife's fault.

Animal photos are, indeed, very popular, but, really, are you laughing at the photo or the “witty” comments someone has appended to the photo? Maybe both? I don't find the photos that humorous, but that may be because I'm not a pet owner. I have taken an occasional photo of my children's pets in cute situations, but I'm not sure they qualify as humor. Would you consider this as funny?

One of the very few times this dog sat still during the entire Christmas holiday!

One of the very few times this dog sat still during the entire Christmas holiday!

Speaking of fuzzy, little animals, children are a great subject for humorous photos. They draw your viewer in with the cute factor and provoke a smile with some silly behavior. Usually, the child doesn't even know they're doing something funny; they're just being themselves. Those are my favorite shots to get.

She has no idea what she's doing, but she's watched her dad wander the beach with this thing.

She has no idea what she's doing, but she's watched her dad wander the beach with this thing.

He's not sure why everyone is so excited about this wedding ceremony.

He's not sure why everyone is so excited about this wedding ceremony.

Props can help you create a humorous shot. The props can be staged locations, as in the egg photo. There are probably a million similar shots to that one – heck, everybody in the county put a kid inside the egg and took a snapshot. But you don't care if that child belongs to your family. (And she does – you can tell that by how cute she is.)

The props might be perfectly natural to the scene you are shooting, but help to tell the humorous story, like the empty raft. Part of humor is timing, and I was really happy with the timing here.  I had made many shots at this small waterfall during the day, and I knew I could count on several people being dumped here.

Nantahala River, NC

Nantahala River, NC

Comparing this to that can be humorous. The man on the right is shorter than some, but certainly not tiny. However, he is standing next to Kevin McBride, who was a professional boxer (he knocked out Mike Tyson) and is a BIG man.

Harvard campus, Boston, MA

Harvard campus, Boston, MA

Look for things out of synch with the scene. Incongruity is always a winner.  This is a Texan, defending the Alamo. How in the world did they lose if they had that technology? Sam Houston must have missed that text.

At the Alamo, San Antonio, TX

At the Alamo, San Antonio, TX

I think it's harder for me to find humorous shots without people in them, but this one almost qualifies. When I was in the old historic section of Krakow, Poland, it was nigh impossible to find a parking spot. When I walked around the corner, I saw an open spot near a cathedral. As I looked up at the cathedral, I saw this image. The angels and saint, directly above the open spot. I laughed and took the shot.

Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland

Unless you're creating situations on purpose, you may have to look around to find humorous photographs; however, rest assured, they are out there. Be alert and look for them. They may not be the next masterpiece you print big, on canvas, and hang on your wall, but they keep the fun in photography. That's why I do this stuff.

*** If you're still trying to figure out the strange title of this blog, go to Google, and look up the name of the bone in your upper arm. ;-)