Itching Image: Odd Man Out

The Gunmen. © Knut Skjærven.

Odd Man Out fits perfectly as a description of yet another idea for making itching images.

Odd means stand apart, strange, different. Something that breaks with what is expected.

Expected does not refer to a personal expectation you might have. It refers to a visual expectation that is built in to the image, as far as that is possible at all.

Looking at The Gunmen, the guy who breaks out is the one looking in the photographer’s direction. This photographer. With a little surprise on his face for being photographed at the time of photography.

There is no rocket science at work here, but these images may be trickier to capture than you think. How often do you see three young men standing in line, with the same bodily posture, camera in hand and lifted simultaneously ready to shoot whatever it is? And a fourth breaking out having spotted this photographer? You?

Or a visual structure like it? The first man is the odd man out. Indeed he is.

Two things must happen at once. First you have to establish a visual expectation. Secondly you have to break that visual expectation.

For this type of street photography you have to do it by observation only. You have to FIND the situation and not DIRECT it. The type of street photography we strive for is based on unedited situations without any interference by the photographer other than that of being present. Not the Carol Reed way.

This is the principle then: Look for a visual flow that leads to a visual expectation. Wait for the third, the fourth or the fifth man to break out of that visual flow. It does not have to be people. Any other object will do as well. But you need a flow and something that diverts from it. An odd man.

Oh, I almost forgot. James Mason played the main character in Carol Reed’s movie from 1947. He was the odd man out.

Good luck with it.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. (Text and image.)

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