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The definition of juxtaposition is placing two things together in order to show a contrast. In photography we use composition, clever use of forced perspectives or carefully placed props to convey the contrasts in the image. Photographs can also rely on cultural ideas and identities of the viewers.

Juxtaposition photography is a very powerful tool. It can show seriousness or convey a comical representation of a scene, setting or concept. For more information on how to capture images like these, read our article here. This article gives you a good range of juxtaposition examples to start you thinking!

1. Animate vs. Inanimate

Yes, it is Picasso. It has Picasso sitting at a table, and bread rolls take the place of his hands. What makes this image work, is that it is subtle at first, as your focus places itself on his eyes where his attention is going.

What makes this a juxtapositional image, is that we see the unexpected. We see hands in the corner of our eyes, and it is only when we focus our attention that we notice the conflict.

Robert Doisneau black and white photograph of Pablo Picasso sitting at a table posed as if bread were his hands as a juxtaposition examples.

Robert Doisneau

2. Big vs. Small

A very basic juxtaposition example is to provide two conflicting ideas in one image. We can do that with something as size differences. One big and another small. And we can strengthen this through the relationship of the subjects.

Here, a father holds his child’s hand.

Close up photograph of an adults hand holding a small childs hand as an example of big vs small juxtaposition examples

3. Big vs. Small (Post-Editing)

Another way to show size differences between two objects is creating the effect during post-processing.

Here, a photograph of a young boy is superimposed on top of an image of Rome. He becomes a Godzilla figure, terrorising St. Peter’s Square.

A post edited photo of a child juxtaposed onto a photo of a city. Juxtaposition examples in photography.

4. Black vs. White

Colours are a great way to show juxtaposition. And there are no two colours that contrast better than black and white. This is because black and white have significance beyond their role as colours.

A portrait of a womans face painted half black and half white on a black backgrounds as an example of colours juxtaposition.

5. Fat vs. Skinny

Another simple area to look at is the physicality of fat and skinny people. This can work with other objects, as long as you single them out in an otherwise busy image.

Visually, the contrast and juxtaposition in this image is very obvious.

Vivian Maier Black and white street photography of two men, one fat and one skinny as a juxtaposition examples

Vivian Maier

6. Emotion vs. Emotionless

Photographers use the difference between foreground and background all the time.

Here, we are using the foreground and background interactions as the juxtaposition. There’s the couple on the billboard kissing in the background while the two people in the foreground are facing away from each other.

Henri Cartier-Bresson photo of a man and woman standing juxtaposed against a painted background of a couple kissing. Photography juxtaposition examples.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

7. Healthy vs. Harmful

You can change peoples’ perception of something using props. Here, the pomegranate has been turned into a grenade. This idea is very simple, both objects look very similar as spherical shapes. But the meaning has changed.

Does the photographer want to convey that pomegranates are deadly? They are in the Greek myth of Persephone. They may be simply showing us the contrast between something healthy and something harmful.

Giuseppe Colarusso still life juxtaposition photography of a pomegranate with grenade pin . Photography juxtaposition examples.

Giuseppe Colarusso

8. Human vs. Machine

Juxtaposition can touch on the surreal. Here, we have an aerial photograph making use of patterns and juxtaposition.

The gap in the puzzle breaks the pattern since we expect to see another car. And the nude person creates a contrast between the natural and the manmade.

John Crawford aerial photograph making use of patterns and juxtaposition examples

John Crawford

9. Lines vs. Circles

Shapes and forms serve as great ways to bring interest into an image. They are inherently contrasting. Here, the shapes are not only from the holes in the ceiling, but from the shadows hitting the multitude of lines on the walls.

Architecture photography where the holes in the ceiling cast circular shadows - juxtaposition examples in photography

10. Mixed Concepts Juxtaposition Examples

We can’t always find juxtaposition examples in the world around us. Sometimes, we can create it during post-processing.

Here, a picture of a tree and an atomic bomb mushroom cloud have been merged. Death and life in one image.

 a picture of a tree and an atomic bomb mushroom cloud have been merged- juxtaposition examples in photography

11. Nature vs. Man-Made

Our world consists of manmade and natural objects. It is only fitting to show these contrasts in our daily life. This image below has a few juxtapositions, which make it a visually striking image.

It shows us the manmade structure, with very clear-cut lines and perfectly repeated rectangles. This is in contrast to the bumpy curves of the tree. It also presents us with an idea of repetition.  Every rectangle is exactly the same, yet each branch is unique.

Photo of a multi windowed building with very clear-cut lines and perfectly repeated rectangles juxtaposed with the bumpy curves of the tree

12. New Technology vs. Old Technology

Technology is another great way to show juxtaposition examples. Our world creates and develops technology so fast that it quickly outdates all past mechanical objects.

Showing the difference between the old and the new tells us something about our society. The story behind the image is powerful.

Photograph of the sky with an airplane juxtaposed to a paper airplane. Photography juxtaposition examples.

13. New vs. Old Architecture

Architecture is almost inescapable. It tells us so much about the place and time of the taken image. Consider the image below.

We see the array of different architectural styles in the foreground. The huge skyscraper in the background overshadows these. Out with the old and in with the new.

Photo of houses in mixed architectural styles in the foreground in juxtaposition to a huge skyscraper in the background .

14. Young vs. Old People

Nothing tugs our heartstrings more than images that show old and young people. We see the passing on of information, of cultures and traditions through their interactions. A gentle reminder that life is fleeting and time flies by so very fast.

Black and white photograph of a grandmother and child at a table colouring in a book

15. Patterns and Colours Juxtaposition Examples

Patterns and colours are a very basic but striking way to show juxtaposition. In the image below, the photographer managed to capture a scarf that resembles the environment in the road work barriers and tape.

The colours and patterns may be the same, but the juxtaposition comes from the use of the objects.

Street photography of a man wearing a scarf that resembles the environment in the road work barriers and tape. Photography juxtaposition examples.

16. People vs. Warfare

Documentary photographers are constantly finding ways to incorporate people and their settings to form a story. Here, children play around a disused and abandoned artillery weapon.

An object of death and destruction has become an object of play, laughter and joy.

Documentary photography of children playing around a disused and abandoned artillery weapon.

17. People vs. Perception

This is one of my favourite photographs. It makes people think. It is a very simple image, captured from the air, showing a man holding onto a ledge for dear life.

After a few seconds, we realise the obvious background. It is a tennis court and we have been caught out. Again, the setting has been repurposed, changing our idea of the area and using it for different means. Bravo!

Overhead photo of a man on a tennis court but looks as though he is holding onto a ledge for dear life - juxtaposition examples

18. Wealth vs. Poverty

One area that many photographers like to cover is that of wealth vs poverty. It is social commentary at its most basic, and most powerful. It is something that we can all acknowledge, as it is a worldwide problem.

This photographer aimed to show these contrasting elements through aerial photography. You can see the difference of the densely populated area vs the sparser, and greener area to the left.

Johnny Miller aerial photography of a densely populated area vs the sparser, and greener area to the left

Johnny Miller

19. Poverty vs. Idealism

Billboards, as we see, are great ways to show the state of the country the image was taken in. They serve as backdrops to products, services and public announcements.

Here, the billboard proudly states that this country has the ‘world’s highest standard of living’. And in the foreground, one sees many people queuing for food. Otherwise known as a breadline.

And the happy people in the background are all white, whereas the entire breadline is made up of people of colour. This screams volumes.

Black and white photo of many people queuing for food in the foreground juxtaposed with a billboard stating 'world's highest standard of living'. juxtaposition examples

20. Repurposing Juxtaposition Examples

This image is amazing. The photographer extends his arm and places a cutout version of a trumpet in front of the lens while photographing.

He repurposes the object in front of him into something different, while simultaneously showing us how he did it. We see both objects separately, but also together, creating a new and third object.

Photo of the photographer extending his arm and placing a cutout version of a trumpet in front of the lens while photographing - photography juxtaposition examples

21. Role Replacement Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition doesn’t have to come from what is in front of the lens. It’s often about the concept and story of the image.

Here, we see a little girl preparing food by peeling carrots. It suggests that the girl has taken the role of mother, in preparing food for the younger sibling seen in the background. We expect to see an adult doing that job. When the girl takes the adult’s place, we read much more into the image.

A photo of a little girl peeling carrots at the kitchen sink- juxtaposition examples

22. Straight vs. Curved

Simply put, lines can be very effective. Here we see a very minimal image of a straight and taut line juxtaposed with the curved line of the water.

The colours and atmosphere of the image also work as a contrast to each other. The black line sits on a lighter background, whereas the white from the water exists in a darker area.

Atmospheric dark image of the coastline juxtaposed by overcast sky

23. Power vs. Weakness

I love images with single subjects, as they help to give the scene a sense of scale. Without this little boy, we wouldn’t have a clue about how big those steps are, and if they are in fact steps at all.

The boy looks at the first step, where we see many more ahead of him. It is a powerful image of the strong and prominent lines in contrast to the small boy, momentarily too small and weak to climb them. Some day, kiddo.

Photo of a small child standing at the end of large stone steps -juxtaposition examples

24. Vintage vs. Modern

We are in love with vintage objects and scenes. If you don’t believe me, look at fashion, art, architecture, music. You name it, we have a retro version of it. It teaches the younger generations what life used to be like through objects, styles, colours and patterns.

Here, we see two boys in modern era clothes look around a vintage room. The furniture and the atmosphere feel very old, and without the two boys, it would be a timeless image.

A photo of two boys in an old fashioned bedroom looking at photos on the wall. juxtaposition examples

25. Past vs. Present

This image of Terence Stamp, a renowned stage and film actor, is one of power. We have his modern portrait on the left, while a younger version of him sits on the right.

He is using an old image to both hide and present the other part of his face. We can compare and contrast the differences in the two parts of his face, seeing how life and old age have treated him.

A photograph of Terence Stamp holding a photograph of his younger self juxtaposed on his face

26. Expected vs. Real Size

Here we have another juxtaposition example of expectation. We see the object as a real, life-sized car, not a toy. On closer inspection, we look at the environment and deduce that these are twigs, meaning that the car is in fact smaller.

The narrow depth of field helps to create this effect.

A photo of a toy blue car on grass

27. Stereotypes Juxtaposition

Every culture and group of people in the world use stereotypes. These can be about gender, colour, culture and traditions of other groups of people. This image serves as a heavy concept in a very simple image.

Here, two men are handcuffed but we don’t know the story. Many people would see the white man as the authoritative, police officer and the man of colour as the criminal.

There is no way of telling, but it can be interesting to evoke these thoughts in your viewers.

Oliviero Toscani close up of two mens hands handcuffed together - one black and one white as a symbol of juxtaposed stereotypes

Oliviero Toscani

For more creative photography inspiration why not check out our articles on minimalist photography or photography styles.

A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:

Thank you for reading...

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Craig Hull

Craig is a photographer currently based in Budapest. His favourite photographic areas are street and documentary photography. Show him a darkroom and he'll be happy there for days. As long as there are music and snacks. Find him at craighullphotography.co.uk and Instagram/craighullphoto

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