Catch attention in a shot by bringing together unexpected elements that somehow fit together and fire the imagination
Coincidences make your images more interesting, so here are ways to capture them
Almost all successful photographs contain an element of surprise. It’s one of the most basic strategies for photography – shooting an image that’s in some way different from what most of the audience would expect. You might say that the same applies to any creative medium, but for photography it’s crucial, because of the sheer numbers of photos sloshing about on the internet.
But are there ways to inject surprise into an image? There are actually several, but here for your consideration, as they say for the Academy Awards, is one so utterly simple that it seems obvious, when you think about it: coincidence. Finding and showing a connection between two elements in an image that is essentially unexpected. It might be two subjects that you wouldn’t normally think would go together, or it might be some graphic connection. In whatever case, photographically it depends on you seeing some correspondence that most other people don’t. And that makes your own eye and imagination stand apart from other people’s.
Coincidentally (sorry), as I was sitting down to write this, I saw a book review in The Guardian about a book called Fluke, and by a fluke the sub-title was The Maths and Myths of Coincidences, so it seems an auspicious time to cover the subject! One thing I learned from this book that might just be relevant to photography is that there’s a difference between coincidence (‘a meaningful conjunction of things without any apparent cause’) and a fluke (sheer good luck). Photographically, then, a fluke depends on getting out shooting often enough to improve your chances of coming across unusual juxtapositions, while a coincidence very much depends on the way you see, your viewpoint, lens and so on. Ultimately, coincidence plays a much larger role in photography than it might seem at first, because any kind of thoughtful and neat composition and framing is about making things coincide!
There’s no connection in reality between the mural and the motorbike’s wing mirrors, but viewpoint and focal length make a purely graphic connection
Our globetrotting Contributor at Large, renowned photographer and prolific author Michael Freeman, presents a monthly masterclass that’s exclusive to
N-Photo. Michael has published dozens of books on photography, including the bestselling PerfectExposure.