What is a Diptych?

Definition: Diptych

Definition: Diptych | Glossary entry


Wolf Diptych

Wolf Diptych - a pair of wolf pictures in one image

A diptych (pronounced dip’tik) was originally a pair of paintings hinged together. Frequently used as alter pieces or of an ornamental nature, they were often of religious origin. In modern art the diptych is often just a pair of images which reflect a common story or theme in each image.

In photography the diptych has become a popular format. Pairs of closely associated portraits, images or themed pictures are often used to off-set one another. In former times the diptych pair were hinged or fixed together. Today, wall mountings, mantel pieces or associated pictures in the same frame are all acceptable formats for the presentation of a Diptych.

In photographic presentation a pair of pictures are often put together in the same actual image. As a format, one image file with two pictures is a diptych.

For the photographic diptych format to work there has to be some form of commonality between the pictures in the image. They normally share some aesthetic, subject, colour, theme or form. The wolves shot above highlights the point. The pair of wolves, while different, are complementary in lots of ways. They are in black and white. They create a ‘dynamic’ together as they are going in opposite directions. The tones and contrasts are in a similar range for the eye. The pictures balance and complement while they also contrast and off-set one another. If you are creating your own diptych then these elements are the sort of compositional features you can use to create a pleasing result.
See also:
Composite image or picture
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