A note, a voice, a picture, a word- these are things that can be of singular beauty. As photographers we all strive for this singularity; to get that image that speaks a thousand words, that breaks open the heart, that stops the viewer in awe. But striving and obtaining are two different things and while the hunt for the singular image is certainly worthwhile it is usually a quest completed without a quarry.

There are other ways of looking at images that move beyond the hunt for the singular best. A majority, in fact, almost entirely all of the images we take are better viewed with other images- better viewed as part of a bigger whole. When combined with others, an image that was once nice can magically morph into something really nice and even quite lovely. Of course this combination has to be done with artful consideration but none the less the effect can be quite strong.

This isn’t an original idea on my part- this effect is as old paint, pigment and parchment. Artists and the art cogniciti have long known the magic of mingling images calling them diptychs for two combined images and triptychs for three. But photographers, the Johnny-come-latelys to the art party, have never really embraced cuddled images. A few have (Lisa Cueman!) but not many. Time for that to change.

Look at the three pictures of the paint brushes above. Each one is nice but together the combination creates a visual synergy greater than the individual. Same is true for the triptych below- as individual pictures they are fine but when put together they excel.

Here is another example; simpler but no less elegant or powerful.

So here is what you do- go back and take a look at your images but this time look at them with a different eye- look at them with two and three eyes. Look at your images and see which ones attract others. It doesn’t have to be only thematic, the attraction can also be by color palette or by texture or by complimentary shapes.

We all have photos that don’t quite work by themselves- there seems to be something missing. Try adding a picture or two and see what happens. Shuffle around all kinds of combinations but pay attention to the natural attractions, the visual synergies. I think you will be amazed.