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Photo of the Month - exploring the Story behind the Image...

Defining the Iconic

Defining the Iconic

Year: 2010, Month: October

England > London > City of Westminster

Can there be any person in the world, leaving aside the head-hunters of New Guinea and the forest Indians of the Amazon jungle, who cannot identify the location of this photograph? The juxtaposition of the sign for the entrance to one of the stations on the London Underground railway, and the tower of the British Houses of Parliament that houses the famous 'Big Ben' bell that chimes the hour on the BBC World Service, is so instantly identifiable as to make anyone laugh out loud if asked to guess its location.

If such an image is so recognisable, is it still a useful photograph to take? Most definitely yes. There is always a demand for such images on all of the image libraries, as truly iconic photographs are ideal for any application that needs instant recognition by its clients.

How, then, to approach the composition of such images? They have often been taken so many times that the prospective photographer may think that there is nothing new that can be done with scene. We all know the scene - that's why it is defined as 'iconic'. The key is therefore to take the same symbols, but look at them from a new angle. In this photo, that has been done quite literally, and you can try the same with the image that you are trying to create. Other alternatives might be:

  • An alternative Viewpoint
  • Use of Black and White
  • Use of Selective Color
  • Use of Framing
  • Use of Juxtaposition
  • Use of Reflections
  • Use of Humour
  • Use of Children or Animals
  • ...and many others.

If you have taken some alternative iconic images, please share them with me - I'd be interested to see them.

You can see some more photos of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament by searching this site for 'London'.

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