Finding a taxi, New York City, New York, 2010
It is not easy to find an empty taxi at 5:30 pm on a hot summer day in New York City. I was waiting for one myself, and I was envious of this fellow who snared a cab while it was stopped in traffic only a few hundred feet away from me. As I made this photo, I realized how incongruous it was to see a human figure run into a street completely filled with traffic. Our imaginations see the scene as a flowing river of traffic, yet it is not. The traffic had to be stopped for a red light in order for him to make the dash and grab that door. (As for me, I caught a Third Avenue bus a moment later and made my way uptown just as quickly as this fellow did.)
Foursome, Madison Square Park, New York City, New York, 2010
I saw an opportunity to express numerous incongruities in this image. A stroller for four seems so much more crowded than the normal stroller for one. The diverse nature of the image is incongruous to begin with, and probably implies that the huge stroller belongs to a daycare center of some kind. The fact that one child emphatically slumbers, while the others vary in their responses, is also strongly incongruous. (We also might also think about what might have happened to the missing sandal at lower left!) I abstract the Nanny pushing the stroller, leaving the viewer to wonder how she must be reacting at the moment. Finally, the bright red stroller dominates the image, and calls special attention to the sleeping child, who also wears red.
The Family, West Dover, Vermont, 2010
This grouping of gravestones offers a family history, with six of the seven bearing the name of Humphreys. The incongruity arrives in the form of a flag that calls attention to the military gravestone in this image, the only stone here with markings that are invisible to us. It adds a poignant touch to this family plot, which contains the remains of people who lived long (nearly 100 years) to short lives (nearly 35 years). The stones, just as the remains below them, are inert, yet the grass and wild flowers continue to thrive around them.
Puff, New York City, New York, 2010
I caught this smoker exhaling a puff of smoke that fills the lower half of his face. He limits his activity to smoking a cigarette, while just behind him, two advertisements teem with incongruous activity. A man standing in the shadows at right apparently is amused – he seemed to smile at me as I made this image.
Snooze, Wilmington, Vermont, 2010
The artist who created this bench used an incongruous concept, painting figures that seem to be dozing upon its slats. I made an image of this incongruous bench from across the street, adding context for its location (a jewelry store), as well as the hanging basket of small flowers that completes a trio of primary colors present here: red, yellow, and blue.
Information desk, Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Arizona, 2010
The hand to mouth gesture I captured here symbolizes puzzlement, while the dominant symbol in the image is a huge question mark. The man runs an information desk, and even when not providing information, he seems to be pondering unanswered questions here. I converted this image to black and white because the colors in the background were so vivid they competed with the sense of quiet thought I wanted to express.
Marble lion, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2010
This marble lion stands in the vestibule of a gallery in Santa Fe. It would not be incongruous in its own right, however every night, the store locks the lion behind an iron gate. By shooting the lion through the gate, I show it as a caged beast, and its frozen roar becomes animated. The cage changes it from a piece of decorative art to an angry lion.
Sharing, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2010
Two people don’t usually occupy one seat, but they do in this case. It was an incongruous situation. I found them sharing a rolling chair just across the street from Santa Fe’s Plaza. They noticed me shooting them, and during my first few shots, they grinned back at me in response. As I continued to shoot, they stopped laughing. Here, the man’s expression is normal, while the woman appears to repressing a smile. Their responses are essentially normal, down to the drink in hand, except for the incongruous fact that she is sitting in his lap.
Namesake, Salmon, Idaho, 2010
Set alongside the Salmon River in Salmon Idaho, I found, appropriately enough, a sculpture of a life-sized bear confronting a group of leaping salmon. I noticed that someone had incongruously lodged a stone in the mouth of the lead salmon, and I moved in with my long telephoto lens to make it seem as if the salmon was incongruously offering the stone to the huge bear. The sculpture of the bear itself stands upon a bed of actual rocks, which are incongruously larger in scale than the “gift stone” borne in the gaping mouth of the fish. When choosing my camera angle, I carefully positioned the noses of both bear and salmon so that maximum tension flows within the negative space between them. All of these incongruities combine to symbolize the quirky nature of this small town that takes its own name from the river and the fish that inhabit it.
Lamp, The Westward Ho, Phoenix, Arizona, 2010
An old ballroom, since converted to a recreation hall for the senior residents living in what was, some eighty years ago, Phoenix’s grandest hotel, now gets its illumination in any way it can. There are at least four incongruous deviations from the norm in this image: this lamp sits adjacent to a reading area, its shade askew. It is hooked to an outlet that soars well above of my frame. Meanwhile, the windows just behind the lamp are painted over, which shuts out natural light in a place where it might seem to be most needed. Two of these windows are cracked, allowing tiny threads of daylight to enter the room. Yet the folks who use this room for recreation and relaxation most likely never will notice these incongruities, but I did.
Concrete Seat, City Hall, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2010
An image of a man reading a book is, in itself, not incongruous. Yet in this photo, that man happens to sit upon a concrete bench, while leaning as far back as he can against the edge of a concrete wall. A triangle of space appears behind his back as he stretches out to gain maximum stability. Totally absorbed in his book, he seems to defy the laws of comfort altogether – offering me a chance to make a decidedly incongruous photograph.
Family portrait, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2009
I enjoy photographing other photographers at work. While on a shoot in Scottsdale with a tutorial student, we watched a commercial photographer shooting a family portrait on the picturesque lawn of the city’s civic center. This is a large family – this couple appears to have six children. Between shots, as the father turns to adjust an item of family clothing behind him, he inadvertently seems to place his elbow over the head of the family’s youngest member seated on his lap. Although the elbow simply caresses the oblivious infant’s head, in the context of this photograph it offers an incongruous counterpoint to what otherwise would be a routine event.