Humor in photography – How to capture funny moments

Your photography has the potential to amuse, even if it wasn’t your original intention. In this article, we are discussing laughter that you provoke. Whether you are creating a photo series, taking photos for social media, or just sharing with family and friends, it never hurts to use a humorous moment to change things up a bit. As a result, you’ll be able to observe how the focused expression of your viewer is suddenly replaced with a smile, or if you’re lucky, with bouts of laughter.

Some say that amusement is at the core of photography. Capturing a moment that amuses or entertains is surely no simple task. You won’t find any instructions, rules, or manuals that tell you how to do it. You must trust your own intuition and rely on foresight. Nevertheless, the following suggestions might give you some helpful hints for getting that hilarious shot.

Wait for the right moment

You’ll never be able to fully prepare for a funny moment, but you can at least try to anticipate it.  They tend to come in a rapid sequence of events, so always have your camera at the ready, ideally set to a semi-automatic mode (shutter or aperture priority). This will allow you to act fast and not waste time with settings after turning on the camera. Also be sure to use the right ISO.

Humor in photography - How to capture funny moments

If you pay close attention, you’ll be able to sense when a potentially humorous situation is brewing. For instance, Grandma’s carving the turkey and her cat is slinking around dangerously close to the table. You could always warn her, or, rush to get your camera and watch the dinner get ruined!

Humor in photography - How to capture funny moments

Craft a humorous situation yourself

There‘s no rulebook stating that you always have to wait for a funny situation to happen on its own. It can always be staged. Or, you can set the conditions so that it will inevitably happen. For example, take two rowdy dogs for a walk and throw them a toy. You won’t be hard-pressed to find a funny moment there.

Humor in photography - How to capture funny moments

Humor in photography - How to capture funny moments

Work with contrast

Have a look around you and look for a composition that in some way, veers off the beaten path. Young and old, rich and poor, tall and short are popular contrasts which can be found in daily life. You can also make use of them for various advertisements, banners, and signs to catch the attention of passersby.

Humor in photography - How to capture funny moments

The streets themselves can sometimes be a stage for a surreal spectacle. Humor is also heavily dependent on context. Something that may be considered normal in a foreign country can bring a smile of surprise to your viewers.

Pay attention to children and animals

When it comes to funny situations, children and animals make perhaps the most rewarding subjects. This is simply caused by the fact that, as opposed to adults who have self-control, kids and animals are unbelievably spontaneous. They do get tired quickly, but as soon as they regain their energy, be on alert.

Humor in photography - How to capture funny moments

A particularly unique sight is children at weddings, dances, family parties, and events of all types. Parents are occupied with different activities and tend to let their little ones run wild more than usual. Furthermore, kids are social creatures and enjoy the company of other children, thus multiplying their energy level. It is almost impossible for a funny moment not to happen.

Humor in photography - How to capture funny moments

Discretion first and foremost

Never go against your better judgement. After all, you don’t need laughter at any cost. Getting a laugh out of your audience should never make you put someone in an unflattering or dishonest position. Your respect for your subject should always come before capturing a humorous moment.

Your choice of camera makes a difference

You may find yourself wanting to use humor not only to change up your photography, but also as a way to add your own unique signature to your work. That’s precisely what happened with world-class photographer Elliott Erwitt. Just like with Street photography, you want to be as inconspicuous as possible for humorous situations. To do so, it’s best to get the smallest camera you can get your hands on, possibly at the expense of technical specifications. A focal length of 35mm is tried and tested. It’s not only universal, but so sought after, that in today’s market you’ll find a wide variety of types and sizes. With respect to size, even an ordinary mobile phone can be your friend.

Humor in photography - How to capture funny moments

Never give up

Humorous situations might frequently escape you and it may seem that you just don’t have a sharp eye. But this isn’t necessarily true. Practice and experience play an important role here. Just have patience, carry your camera with you, and keep trying to snap a picture at just the right moment. Even the most experienced photographer doesn’t get their shot sometimes. We are all constantly learning.

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AuthorOndrej Cechvala

Photography is not only something I enjoy, but it also pays the bills. You’ll either run into me photographing a wedding or wandering the world, camera in hand. I travel everywhere, from the Arctic Circle to the Equator. To me, Home is anywhere where you can find people with a smile. I enjoy collecting stories of people and places which I later arrange into longer photographic series. Some of these can be found on my website.

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