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Photographing Opposites;Dichotomy

Updated on June 11, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.


Have you heard about dichotomy before?

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Dichotomy is defined by all intensive purposes as a split image; one or the other or two samples that contradict. A clearer example would be to photograph and show; male or female, good or evil, dry or wet, black or white, rich or poor.

This photographic project entails making a list of common opposites/dichotomy samples, and a little preparation on your part. You can literary step out your door and start taking shots. but with this approach once you capture one image then you have to be on the look out for the opposite.

If you make a list of the themes that you want to pursue and choose certain locations where you might find these samples then it makes your job a little easier.

A fallacy with this project is to do many opposites at once or in one day. Choose one theme or maybe a couple and concentrate on getting enough quality images to make it work. Then in succession take on the others.

Some good starting choices would be night and day; take some photos during the day and re shoot the same subject during the night with no added extra light other than ambient.

Have a volunteer completely wet their hair, photograph it and then take the shot of the hair completely dried (actually shoot dry first, it's easier).

People make great subject for this project, especially children. See if you can find two kids; one happy and the other who may be sad. Still life also lends itself well for this, like an ice cream cone before and after it's partially consumed. How about an image of a glass full of an ice cold drink, with another full of hot water?

The Moon is also a good choice; illuminated and then dark. Want to go deeper, then consider pairing a wanted add or sign advertising jobs near an unemployed or homeless person (use a model for this, it pays to be sensitive). Keep in mind to be respectful and conscientious.

One of my favorite subjects when doing this project has been to photograph the young and the old, fat and thin, off course I always explain my purpose to those involved and have never been turned down.

Consider the mundane and obvious; a dead end street sign next to an one way sign. A horse drawn wagon while cars are whizzing through and a well dressed individual next to a casually dressed one.

Don't forget nature, images such as a cat and a dog, a cat and a mouse don't' seem to be compatible because we assumed them to be opposites, yet they can easily be found. A friend of mine had two very unusual pets that he had raised from birth; a boa and a white rat. I would have never imaged photographing the boa drinking from the same bowl next to the rat which happened to be resting on the head of the boa!

Flowers and leaves lend themselves well too; a fresh flower next to a wilted sample or a living leaf next to a dried one.

There are also examples that can be found on architectural projects, such as a tiny modest home nestled between tall buildings. The image of a glistening pool encompassed within view of a dessert. A brand new building next to rundown or vacant one.

Want to see many more articles with tips, and photography project ideas?


For simpler examples, such as black and white, dark or clear, a digital program can be the solution. You can literary take and image and digitally have one section in black and white and the other in color. The process is almost identical to the one used to keep one color in an otherwise monochromatic scene.

An alternative would be to take two images of opposites and digitally combine them into one or If using slides, sandwiching them. Opposing emotions are somewhat difficult to capture together in one frame and it often happens by luck, with sports providing one of the few instances because you can often find fans of the opposite teams sitting next to each other.

Not all dichotomy images have to be of opposites, sometimes very unusual circumstances or elements come together that can make for great shots, because of the virtual impossibility of occurrence, pay attention to those samples such as the boa/rat example given earlier.

You can get creative with a digital program too and make impossible scenes come together such a a match "lit" by a water "flame" instead of a flame.

Regardless of your choice of subjects, be creative yet attentive to the ordinary. Good samples of this theme might be worth submitting to greeting card manufacturers, the poster industry and e-publishers.

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      9 years ago from Miami, Florida

      jtyler: Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it

    • jtyler profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice article. This seems like a good thing to do. Capturing opposites seems quite interesting.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      9 years ago from Miami, Florida

      tnderhrt23: Thank you

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Fun hub, well written with great photos! Nice job!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      9 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Justom: Thanks..coming from you its a compliment and as always I appreciate your comments.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      9 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Theresa_Kennedy: Wanting to try is the first step, having fun is the second. You will find yourself having

    • justom profile image


      9 years ago from 41042

      How did I miss this one Luis? This is great advice and an excellent way to have some fun and take good pictures. Nice work, as always! Peace!! Tom

    • Theresa_Kennedy profile image

      Theresa Kennedy 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      I voted up, and happy too that this is in the contest. Love the title, because I too am fascinated by dichotomies in life. I'm not a photographer, but this hub makes me want to try. Easy to read, whimsical and great photo choices!

    • Trsmd profile image


      9 years ago from India

      Nice to view this page through the contest link..


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