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Photographic Diptychs

Updated on October 31, 2014
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

Ever heard the word diptych? Don't worry, very few people have, more less known what it means, although it's simpler than you think. In general terms, diptyches are two flat panels or surfaces joined together with a hinge to form a cover, usually meant to protect writing or they can be the subject themselves.

Diptychs have been used for many years and by many civilizations, often being highly decorative and richly decorated. Diptych is used as an art form in paintings and drawings by artists such as Andy Warhol

In photography, diptych simply refers to the technique of putting two photographs side by side with the intent of creating an artistic statement. They can be joined together or separated by a border. The images can be of the same subject, of different subjects, an action and a reaction. So long as they are side by side it is known as a diptych.

Reasons for pursuing this technique are varied, but mostly done to compare the same subject at various times. It's most often used to compare children and the similarities between brothers, cousins, siblings. Diptych is also useful in studying personalities of the same person or of two different people.

But people are not the only suitable subjects for this technique. It can also be applied for weather systems; a thunderstorm's approach and the aftereffects for example. Nature offers plenty of good examples worthy of diptych; a caterpillar and the butterfly, a seedling and the plant, a bird's egg and the fledgling.

Telling a story through this technique is very possible, although you should keep in mind that the story will be composed of only two shots. A person picking berries from the field with the next image being the basket of berries, or a child eating ice cream with the next image being that of the child's face completely covered with ice cream. A child frolicking in the park, one moment running through the grass and the next image showing the same child comfortably resting under the shade of a ficus tree.

One of the best examples that I have ever seen using diptych was the birth of a pony; one image was of the mare giving birth with the following image being the pony lying next to its mother while she gently preened him. Another very good example was an image of some football fans sitting next to their television set just at the moment when their team was about to score and the next image being that of their elated reaction after the score and the end of the game which signified that their team won. No words were needed to tell what was going on, the images said it all.

If you have the knowledge and the software to create diptychs digitally then it becomes much easier to present them in a diptych format See the following link for more detailed information: Digital Diptych

Another good use for diptych is to take the an image with a shallow depth of field and to take another with a normal depth of field. This presents two different perspectives of the same scene and offers the viewer a side by side comparison not otherwise seen.

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source
Medieval sample featuring a painting of husband & wife
Medieval sample featuring a painting of husband & wife | Source
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source

Why create diptychs? Well besides being a fun project in which to include your family and friends, these images can be shown in art galleries and in general photographic publications as well as being sold as individual prints to the public. They can also be used as album covers or book binders. The commercial world also uses diptychs to show products, like a change in appearance of a model without make up and with makeup. The posh look of a model with a new wardrobe creation and without it. Fresh picked peaches and the pie made from them.

Weddings, pregnancy and other especial events lend themselves well for this technique. Whatever the use that you intent for your diptych photographs, it is important to clearly capture both images and with the same attention to detail and quality, lest one image be better than the other thus distracting from the entire scene.

Although turning your photography into an income source is always appealing, this should not be the only reason to pursuit it. You must have a genuine desire to grow as a photographer and a general love for the art. Without this, you might just be a button pusher and you run the risk of your images representing this.

If you really appreciate this art form then as you grow so will your images be a reflection of this growth. Keep this in mind next time that you pick up a camera.

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Vector design: thank you

    • Vector design profile image

      Saim 4 years ago from California

      You share some good points and nicely diptych these images. I really like this hub.this hub is informative for me.

    • Kayleesnider profile image

      Kayleesnider 6 years ago from USA

      Nice tips..

    • profile image

      joekreydt 6 years ago

      Wow! This makes me want to start making dyptichs right away!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      This looks like a great idea. The pictures are really great lookig.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      justom: Thanks, actually I had been practicing this technique for some time now and had forgotten what is was called.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Cardisa: You I always enjoy your comments.


    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Luis, I have been reading your hubs while working, so don't think I haven't been around, just been busy but voting non the less.

      I have a photo as my computer background that is a diptych. I took two photos of my fiance and put them together using a program. I had no idea it was art with a specific name. Thanks for letting me know.

      Good hub as usual, and even when I don't leave a comment I still read and vote up.

    • justom profile image

      justom 6 years ago from 41042

      Great hub Luis! While I know the idea I have never heard the word diptych. Your knowledge is overwhelming my friend. I guess this means we will see somebody here on HP using this technique to do their own (and I use that term loosely)hub. Nice work, as always ! Tom

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 6 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for this very useful tip. I will study this further I am sure I can use the technique :-)