Today I was giving my photo classes their new assignment, “Two-fer” - basically instead of looking for *a* subject, look for two subjects and try to create relationships, contrast, or juxtaposition between them. I pulled some of my own pictures to give them ideas, turns out I do the two-fer thing myself more than I realized. Some are more obvious than others, and we talked about playing with the two components either roughly in the same visual plane (side by side), or using them more as layers (front to back).
One (non-)example was a picture from my book The Waiting Room - Photographs from Belarus. I had gotten on a trolleybus in Minsk with a friend and quickly made this shot of a girl standing at the rear:
I felt at the time like I got the shot, and she didn’t seem to mind or maybe didn’t know I took it. But my inner photo nag wanted more, as it tends to. I remember how I thought - like I’m asking my students to think - ok, good, that’s one nice element, but how do I add another, relate her to something else, some kind of contrast… maybe to an older person on the bus for example. So I quickly moved back a bit, trying for that two-fer. Found the older guy like I wanted in the seats but, alas, my friend happened to be standing there in the middle (to my friend AK, it’s ok :))), you couldn’t have known!). It’s not a bad picture, but not the simple duality that I wanted.
The scene changed a moment later anyway. So the two-fer didn’t quite work out, but the first one made my book in the end.
I hope this is helpful to anyone looking for ways to mix up their compositions. One subject is ok, but think about going for two!