Portraying humour in photography and the challenges behind it

Portraying humour in writing or in motion pictures can be easy: all you need to do is to have a funny story to tell and to execute it well. But, if you had to convey the same emotion of humour in a photograph, the challenge is greater. To be able to capture the quintessence of the split second that can make one bubble over with laughter, and to preserve it within a frozen frame, is no mean feat.

The key to getting humour right in photography is to be observant. What comes to your mind when you think of something funny? Is it a particular image? Or a sequence of images? Invariably, there will be a sequence, but the funniest moment is really just a frozen frame. The point where the memory intersects with humour is the fulcrum of the comedy. Now, a photograph need not always be shot: superimposition, playing around with effects and even mixing up elements can go a long way in crafting a nifty creation.

In handling humour in photography, there is undoubtedly a challenge to getting it right, and to capture the right moment in its full resplendence. But the challenge in capturing humour for a stock photo is a different thing altogether. When you save photos for your own personal memories, from now until posterity, the memory of the incident is enough for you to see humour in the situation. But what of a stock photo? A person using a stock photograph is looking for a particular message he can convey with that picture: and therefore, capturing humour as a generic element that can produce a sense of rib-tickling laughter, is automatically a tougher deal.

In most situations, the right idea to pursue would be to pivot your photograph around laughter. The picture of people laughing is enough to evoke a sense of happiness, if not outright humour. But in stock photography, you also have the luxury to play around: funny expressions, animals in clothes (but do not harm the animals!), capturing irony to project a state of tongue-in-cheek humour and even satire – can work wonders. Playing around with effects after that becomes a matter of additional exposition of the theme. In stock photos, your photographs are not encumbered by the mathematics of a memory. Therefore, no photograph that is seen by the recipient of stock photograph, is associated with the very same memory that you had in mind when it was shot. To this end, therefore, your photograph tells a range of different stories to the user. This is where, your versatility makes a huge difference, and changes the dimension of storytelling through stock photography.

A picture is always worth a thousand words. Capture humour, and it can also be equal to a thousand peals of laughter.

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