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Masters of Photography

Lesson 19 of 25

Using Juxtaposition

Steve McCurry

Masters of Photography

Steve McCurry

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Lesson Info

19. Using Juxtaposition


  Class Trailer
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1 Meet Your Master Duration:00:47
2 The Early Years Duration:08:30
3 Going To War Duration:08:03
4 Influences: Cartier-Bresson Duration:08:29
5 Other Influences Duration:08:06
6 Tell A Story Duration:12:04
7 Conflict Zones Duration:14:13
8 Finding Subjects And Stories Duration:13:16
9 Choosing The Light Duration:12:55
15 Portraiture - 9 Key Tips Duration:08:27
17 Photographing Children Duration:12:37
18 The Afghan Girl Duration:05:59
19 Using Juxtaposition Duration:06:37
20 Landscape Duration:10:14
21 Composition Duration:06:52
22 Cityscapes Duration:08:20
23 Shoot In All Weather Duration:06:39
25 Making Pictures For A Living Duration:02:20

Lesson Info

Using Juxtaposition

(gentle piano music) Some of my favorite pictures are ones where two objects, or two people, or two situations are juxtaposed, and you get this wonderful contrast or comparison between two divergent ideas. This is something which has been done in photography, and in fact art, for forever. I think of the work of Robert Doisneau, André Kertész (mumbles), Garry Winogrand. There's also the humor associated with juxtaposition. I mean nobody does humor better than Elliot Erwitt. Many of his pictures, again, juxtaposed things that has divergent elements that sometimes come together in kind of a funny situation. Many great photographers have used this sort of device to kinda put two elements together, which make a comment. Two divergent ideas that come together to say, make a comment about life in this world. (soft music) (gentle piano music) One of my pictures that I think refers to juxtaposition is this girl dressed up as a Geisha in Kyoto, Japan, walking out of a subway entrance. This was...

a found situation and when I saw her, I realized that this was something which was very incongruous, this traditional way of dressing and then this sort of modern subway, but I thought the two together was a kind of a humorous, kind of unusual juxtaposition, taking this Geisha out of context and putting her out of a traditional setting and putting her into really mundane, very kind of ordinary setting of a subway exit. (soft music) The color in her dress juxtaposed with this sort of sterile background, I think makes an interesting comparison. Also the lines in the picture somehow converge to her figure. So you had this sort of very traditional, colorfully dressed woman juxtaposed with this very sterile background of this very ordinary, very mundane subway exit. (gentle music) So I think it's very important to be observant of your surroundings and as you walk down the street, you seek things that play off of each other, that make a comment about how they juxtapose against each other, I think this could make a wonderful picture. If you look through the work of so many wonderful, famous photographers, you'll find this is something that's repeated throughout the history of photography. (gentle music) I made this picture of a monk in India in a tea shop, he was having a Coca Cola, but what I found sort of interesting was his juxtaposition between this monk, this traditional Buddhist monk with his kind of enormous Coca Cola sign in the background. You have this sort of modern world juxtaposed with a traditional world, and the way they kinda play off of each other, these two divergent directions, one of kind of more inward thinking, more meditation, more traditional, and this sort of multinational, this sort of global brand and how this is the world we live in and how these two divergent elements come together to make an interesting comment. I think there's a harmonious color palette to this picture. The red wall, the monk with the maroon robe. You have this typography of Coca Cola, which is kind of a universal symbol. Everybody recognizes it even if they don't understand what it says, they see the shape. And it's this sort of contrast between this sort of traditional meditation practice and this sort of multi-national symbol which talks about modernity and very, in some ways, very opposed to the monastic life of this monk. (gentle music) Another example of juxtaposition is this photograph I made in Jaipur, India of some elephant mahouts, these are attendants that care and work with elephants. This was just around lunch time. So it's kind of a little bit of an incongruous situation where you have these two men taking a nap, just next to this elephant and it seems almost kind of a precarious, almost dangerous place to be, but this is the way they live and this is the way they work. (gentle music)

Class Description

Steve McCurry has been one of the most important voices in contemporary photography for more than thirty years. Masters of Photography is bringing Steve’s class to CreativeLive to share the learnings from his iconic career. Steve will teach how to:

  • Find a subject to photograph
  • How to shoot in all types of weather condition
  • Understand the light at different times of day
  • Improve your compositional skills
  • Blend into the environment so that you can capture impactful street images
  • Use his 8 key tips in order to capture the best portraits

Watch and learn with Steve as you accompany him through the fishing villages of Portugal and in the vibrant streets of Havana. See for yourself how he creates images, as he shares ideas and experiences, and explains how to make great photographs. Steve will also suggest some projects for you to try for yourself.

You can use any device from camera phone to’s all about the image and storytelling.


Adriana L-G

For me this is not a class, is more the photographer talking about his photos and his experience. It is a little repetitive but I enjoyed. From Masters of Photography I loved Joel Meyerowitz's class and I recommend it strongly. In case you need to choose.