Kachina, Cameron Trading Post, Cameron, Arizona, 2009
We were having dinner in the trading post dining room, built in 1916. I noticed a large Kachina looking down on us as we ate. Although the Kachina probably represents a Hopi spirit, it seems right at home in a dining room owned and operated by the neighboring and much larger Navajo tribe. From my low angle, I was able to juxtapose it against the dining room ceiling, creating still another incongruous comparison. The ceiling is made of pressed tin, symbolizing 19th and early 20th century American industrialization – the very force that eventually helped dilute and destroy so much of Native American culture. This tin ceiling has been beautifully restored, yet to those who understand the history of decorative interior design, it might be seen as a bittersweet kind of beauty.
Ice cream, Kiev, Ukraine, 2009
We saw it from across a wide avenue, the Khreschatyk, Kiev’s main street. It was a simple ice cream sign, yet it was glowing softly next to a golden door from another time. The gentle swirls of ice cream juxtapose perfectly with the swirling ornamentation of the doorway, while the crusty cone seems to mimic the softly focused column at left in both texture and configuration. This image is a good example of using several kinds of juxtaposition in the same image. We compare then to now, and small to large. We also echo form and texture, compare dark to light, and vivid color to neutral hues.
Divergent purposes, St. Vladimir Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 2009
A religious service was in full flower as we visited this elegant cathedral, dedicated by Czar Nicholas II in 1896 to commemorate 900 years of Christianity in Russia. My fellow photographer Tim May ( http://www.pbase.com/mityam
) was busily framing a shot, seemingly oblivious to a worshipping Kievite not far from his right elbow. She is as intent on exercising her faith as Tim is in getting his shot. I juxtapose two human beings back to back from opposite sides of the earth who share a moment in time and space for entirely different purposes.
Fountain, Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, 2009
This fountain, made of glass, makes a whimsical backdrop for the child who I’ve juxtaposed before it. She carries a bag of goodies, and sticks her tongue out as she sprints towards the museum. The piles of twisted glass upon their rods seem to rise up and down in tribute to her dash. The shot came as a gift – I had been shooting the unusul glass fountain, and the kid ran right into my composition. By the time I focused, exposed, and pressed the shutter button, she had nearly run out of my frame.
Pushmi-pullyu, Olympic National Park, Washington, 2009
I was buying a souvenir hat at a roadside outfitter when I learned that a herd of elk was grazing just behind it. I ran out of the store and into this shot. The two elk are juxtaposed in space as if they were linked, one incongruously merging out of the other. Mergers are usually disruptive, but this one makes one elk out of two. It reminds me of the Pushmi-pullyu, a fictional antelope in Hugh Lofting’s book, “The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle.” The Pushmi-pullyu has two heads at opposite ends of its body, and when it tries to move, both heads try to go in opposite directions.
Mailman, Tucson, Arizona, 2009
By juxtaposing a mailman sorting mail as he energetically strides to his next destination, with a stereotypical cartoon on the wall of a Mexican restaurant, I contrast the presence of hard work to a restaurant sign that speaks of “no work”. While we were surprised to find such ethnic stereotyping in Tucson, which is one-third Hispanic, perhaps political correctness has yet to take effect this close to the Mexican border. Or maybe the cartoon on the wall of this 76 year old landmark restaurant has been there so long that it is now just seen as part of the urban landscape.
Lobby, Congress Hotel, Tucson, Arizona, 2009
The Congress was built in 1919, and drips with nostalgic Southwestern atmosphere. I found only one person using its large lobby lounge, and he was studying a newspaper instead of his lavishly decorated environment. I’ve juxtaposed a single person here with a large room. I’ve also juxtaposed a room intended to be seen, with a person who does not try to see it. The result: an incongruous image. Later, we met this man. It turns out that he no longer needs to look at this beautifully decorated lobby. He is a Congress Hotel bartender, and he has worked there for 50 years.
On duty, Nogales, Arizona, 2009
I focused on a perfume advertisement on the opposite side of a busy street and waited for a juxtaposition that would strike a bold contrast with the model in the ad. After numerous misfires, a softly focused policeman on a motorcycle roared into my frame. I caught the model looking at him just over his windshield. He pays her no attention.
Through the years, New York City, New York, 2009
A banner promoting tourism in New York, featuring a retro 30s Art Deco treatment of the Empire State Building, hangs opposite a 19th century brownstone. I bring the two subjects together in my frame, juxtaposing the classical embellishments of the brownstone’s architectural detail with the colors and stylization of the retro banner. By juxtaposing a 120 year old building with a contemporary banner that looks 75 years old, I try to offer an enduring vision of New York through the years.
Headache, Tunis, Tunisia, 2008
On my final day in Tunisia, I had planned an afternoon shoot in the medina of Tunis. But rains intervened, and I contented myself by shooting street life from under the awning of my own hotel on Tunis’ Avenue Bourguiba. There was an advertising kiosk on a broad traffic island in the middle of the avenue, covered in entertainment posters. The posters on the bottom of the kiosk advertise a play or film called “Apples for Eve.” They feature eloquent hand expression. I waited for a passer-by to use a hand gesture just as expressive. After many false starts, it happened. A man stopped in his tracks, and clapped a hand to his forehead. Maybe he had a headache, perhaps he was momentarily confused, or he just might have been wiping the raindrops off his face. I leave the answers to my viewers.
Cemetery, Kairouan, Tunisia, 2008
The grass in this Islamic cemetery makes fodder for sheep, a juxtaposition expressing the cyclical nature of life and death. The grass grows between the graves just as the wool grows on the backs of the grazing sheep. The rounded backs of the sheep mimic the curves of the graves stones in the background.
Tram stop, Tunis, Tunisia, 2008
This is a both a cultural and physical juxtaposition – the traditional dress of a Muslim woman contrasts in both color and coverage to the clothing of the women to either side of her, while the body language of the man at right unconsciously reflects the body language of the woman next to him.