14 : Contrasting Subjects


Not the same

This week we continue to explore the subject matter of our photographs. It's all about *what* you choose to photograph rather than *how* you are doing it. Next week give loads of tips and tricks for taking true candids. The following weeks we return to camera techniques by learning about horizons, shooting in low light, and creating bokeh.


But for now... Contrast is defined as “the state of being strikingly different from something else, typically something in juxtaposition or close association.” Contrast in photography is all about finding and accentuating differences of all kinds.

Looking for contrast in subject matter can be an exercise in creativity. You’ll notice that many of the images that have gone “viral” on social media include some kind of subject matter contrast.

Contrasting subject matter invites the viewer to take a deeper look at your image in order to distinguish and compare the ideas that are present. This technique is not so much about your camera settings, light or exposure, as it is about capturing a concept. We will spend a future lesson focussing exclusively on contrasting color, so there is no need to work on that this week.

Examples of contrasting subject matter may present themselves spontaneously, though it may be necessary to brainstorm examples from your daily life as you work through this week's theme. Keep an open eye and mind toward seeing opposites around you.

This week's lesson is short and sweet. It's a chance to regroup and do some creative stretching. As always, the most important goal each week is simply to capture your family. If you find that you can't complete this week's lesson, that's fine. Don't let it stop you from enjoying your photography!

photo by Jennifer Rosiere

photo by Jennifer Rosiere

photo by Carolann Biegen

photo by Carolann Biegen

Creative Prompts

For this week's assignment, think about opposites. Photographing your child's fingers or toes next to your own is a good starting point. From there, explore some of these other contrasts:


  • soft/rough
  • old/young
  • big/little
  • good/bad
  • close/far
  • horizontal/vertical
  • up/down

Checking in!

Have you taken a great shot? Had a breakthrough with a camera setting? Need some pointers? The moderators in the Facebook group are happy to help you out. Even if you don't post a picture this time, stop by and have a look around!