Seagull on a pay for parking sign
Lens-Artists,  Street photography,  Themed galleries

Gallery: shots to make you smile (I hope)

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter

e. e. cummings

We could all use a laugh from time to time, and maybe more than ever over the last few years. It seems to be part of human nature to look for humour in the darkest times.

Perhaps that’s why, for this week’s Lens Artists Challenge, John asks us to dig into our photo archives and find something humorous. He also points out that humour is subjective; so I hope at least some you share a sense of humour similar to my own, and will find my offering amusing!

Note, I am British so will insist on including an ‘O’ in the word humour and resist the US spelling used in John’s original post!

A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Signs that make us smile

Almost all of us carry a camera these days; it’s called a phone. And when we see a funny sign many of us are quick to pull out the phone, grab a shot and share it. Social media is full of such photos, which is probably why lots of businesses have been eager to take advantage of this and provide us with a sign we’ll be tempted to share. This gallery includes a few such signs along with others I’ve come across and kept in my archives.

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Sign with directions to toilets

Toilet sign in a London coffee shop; do my male readers find this as amusing as I do, I wonder?


UFO parking sign

Sign in Roswell, New Mexico, a town obsessed with UFOs and aliens. In the summer of 1947 a local man found some odd-looking debris on a ranch some 30 miles north of the town. Many of those who believe in UFOs are convinced that he had found a crashed spaceship, complete with its alien pilot who died in the crash.


Sign, Save Water Drink Beer

Sign in a London Soho pub window. Good advice?


Whiteboard with Choose to Smile message

Sign in Piccadilly Circus Tube station, London; not especially funny but sure to raise a smile.


Spoof notice

Spotted on Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, west London. The island was the site of the Eel Pie Island Hotel where many famous bands got their early breaks. Today it is known for its colony of artists, at least one of whom clearly has a sense of humour!


Notice, It is prohibited to kiss this poster, with lipstick marks

Notice on a Newcastle barbershop’s wall. I’m not sure if the lipstick kisses were part of the original ‘design’ or have been added by disobedient passers-by!


Mock road signs

Signs under the High Level Bridge in Newcastle upon Tyne. You have to read them from the top down to get the message.


Sign about leaving things to the last minute

Sign at the Tan Hill Inn in Yorkshire, the highest pub in England; so true!


Greetings card with Bayeux Tapestry cartoon

Card in a gift shop in Ludlow, Shropshire. To get the joke you need to know that in the early days of the pandemic and lockdown we had a weekly initiative to stand on doorsteps, balconies etc. and clap for our NHS and other essential workers. For many in large cities it was the first time they had spoken to their neighbours for years, if at all!

Surprise me!

Aristotle said that, ‘The secret to humour is surprise’, and I find that very true when it comes to photography. A funny photo is one that takes you by surprise because there is something unexpected in the image. Maybe something out of place, or two subjects that don’t seem to fit together. My featured photo, taken at Tynemouth in north east England, is a case in point. Did the seagull pay to park on the sign, I wonder?

The following shots will hopefully make you smile, as they did me. Many fall into the category of street photography as that’s where I often spot the incongruous serendipity of a person who looks out of place or out of sync with their surroundings.

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Man in a fox costume leaning on a road sign

Spotted near St Paul’s Cathedral in London; I have no idea what the ‘fox’ was doing there!


Young girl looking at her phone next to a large modern art work

At an exhibition at Tate Modern, London; I was amused at her total disinterest in the art work (perhaps looking instead at Instagram photos on her phone?)


Modern sculpture and tired woman sitting on a bench

This exhibition was at Tate Britain, London; I seem to spend as much time looking at the visitors to the exhibitions as I do the exhibits!


Man in shorts on a beach with a bird

On a beach in Abu Dhabi; the man seems much more interested in the bird than the bird does in him!


Old woman selling socks outside a window display with a mannequin in lingerie

In Tallinn, Estonia; in some ways this is rather a wistful image, in the contrast between old and young. But what makes me smile is another contrast; that between the woolly socks the woman is selling and the skimpy underwear worn by the mannequin.


Woman on a bench reading a paper next to a statue

This street scene in Bologna also made me smile, with the juxtaposition of the classical statue framing the seated rather less classical woman!


Young woman eating in front of a large sculpted face

Sunday morning near Brick Lane, London; the young woman seems unaware of the huge sculpted face behind her as she enjoys her snack.


Various signs including No Pissing Here

In Negril, Jamaica. I could have used this in the ‘signs’ gallery I guess; but what amuses me in this photo is the way the positioning of man’s fishing rod makes it appear as if he is disobeying the middle of the three signs!


Man with a red feather in his hat

At the Little Venice festival in London; simply an amusing hat.


Teddy bear wearing red sunglasses

And finally, at another London art exhibition; not exactly funny perhaps, but I hope it made you smile!

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