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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Twenty Five: Stimulating the imagination with “opposites and contradictions” tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Twenty Five: Stimulating the imagination with “opposites and contradictions”

In Gallery Two, I explained how and why incongruities intensify meaning by creating contrasts or juxtapositions that stimulate the emotions, the intellect and imagination. A good way to build incongruous ideas into your images is to conceive images in terms of “opposites and contradictions.” Look for things that are the opposite of what you may expect, things that are inconsistent rather than consistent, elements that oppose or contradict each other. Life itself is built around opposing and contradictory relationships such as night and day, good and evil, big and small, quiet and loud, happy and sad, hot and cold, up and down, horizontal and vertical, man and woman, spirit and matter, sacred and profane, light and darkness, conscious and unconscious, health and illness, easy and difficult, pleasure and pain, left brain and right brain, yin and yang, past and present, even life and death – we can’t have one without the other. The great Henri-Cartier Bresson himself once said that he often sought “two elements in conflict, elements that create a spark of tension.” Expressive photographers are always looking for elements at odds with each other or with their context to bring tension, energy, understanding, and meaning to their imagery.

I am indebted to Argentina’s Marisa Taddia ( ) for inspiring me to develop and post this gallery. She offers significant philosophical and metaphysical background context on this subject in a lengthy comment posted in Gallery 24 at

In this gallery, you’ll find examples of images based on elements at odds with each other, mostly selected from my archive of digital travel articles posted at:

This gallery is presented in "blog" style. A large thumbnail is displayed for each image, along with a detailed caption explaining how I intended to express my ideas. If you click on the large thumbnail, you can see it in its full size, as well as leave comments and read the comments of others. I hope you will be able to participate in the dialogue. I welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions, and will be delighted to respond.