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Photographing Clowns

Updated on February 11, 2014
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CC BY 2.0 | Source
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source

Clowns have always been either loved by children and by adults or they have been feared, almost to the point of being a phobia.

"Clowns are comic performers stereotypically characterized by the grotesque image of the circus clown's colored wigs, stylistic makeup, outlandish costumes, unusually large footwear, and red nose, which evolved to project their actions to large audiences.

Other less grotesque styles have also developed, including theatre, television, and film clowns. Peter Berger writes that "It seems plausible that folly and fools, like religion and magic, meet some deeply rooted needs in human society".[1] For this reason, clowning is often considered an important part of training as a physical performance discipline, partly because tricky subject matter can be dealt with, but also because it requires a high level of risk and play in the performer.[2]

Thee term coulrophobia has been coined to describe those individuals who report a fear of clowns.[3]:" Wikipedia

Perhaps is the heavy white unnatural looking face makeup, the big red noses, the big floppy shoes or that unwavering smile, almost creepy looking.

Whatever it is about clowns one either loves them or hates them. This opens up the door for a photographic projects featuring various clowns and their attires, complete with the big floppy shoes.

There are basically two ways of approaching the project; you can either ask some clowns for permission to record their images when the circus is in your town or try to hire some local talents that are always present for a kid's party.

The first alternative is better because you are almost guaranteed to have several performers dressed in various set ups, the local variation can work but more than likely you have only have access to one or two at the most at any one time and will probably have to keep hiring performers from various agencies to complete a project that features a wide array of sample images.

Two key points to consider when embarking into this project are tow do various shots featuring the clown or performer, in the complete get up commonly used when they perform and the image should be of the entire subject. To accompany these images you should also record images featuring close ups of the face since this is the most recognizable part of any clown. Kind of their trademark.


Try do take photos that are not that common, Use different perspectives and different angles.

Also try to use backgrounds that will not be too cluttered so as not to dissuade your viewer from taking their eyes of your main subject.

A good idea will be to play of the fear of clowns that some individuals have. Do some shots that show a "fierce" or scary looking clown.

This is easier than what you may think since with a little grin or facial posturing this is easily accomplished.

Be sure to pay close attention to the lighting. Often you do not need to completely illuminate the subject in its totality, subdued light can be used to your advantage as well as careful use of shadows.

Remember that these performers live and die by their makeup so adding or taking from this is totally acceptable in order to accomplish your artistic idea of the project.

It is your interpretation of what the shoot should look like that must be the guiding force behind the project.

Try use uncommon clown props such as weird wigs and perhaps some colored contact lenses.

The object is to not just photograph clowns but to photograph them in ways that are seldom seen and that most of us and not used to seeing.

Bring your audience photographs that highlight the unexpected and not the same old thing.

Capturing the imagination of your audience is paramount if you are to be successful with your photographic endeavours.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      kashmir56: Thank you. The "evil" clown is to show that there are different ways to show a subject....BTW I don't like it

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Luis, enjoy reading your hub on photographing clowns, love all the photos of the clowns but didn't like the evil clown so much .

      Vote up and more !!!