Humor has a strange place in photography. So often a humorous photograph undermines the subject matter or the medium itself and leaves the image feeling like a ploy for cheap laughs. But when it works, when composition and moment and environment come together just right, and the photographer is clever enough to know when and how to press the shutter, a humorous photograph can have a tremendous impact.

Hajdu Tamas is the kind of photographer who is not afraid to point his camera at the absurdity of life, even when that life is hard. His photographs of the minutia in small-town Romania present delightful juxtapositions of the old ways of doing things and the new direction in which its residents are trying to move. A high dive towers above an old cemetery, a cow pokes it head out of someone’s backyard bushes with apartment towers visible behind it.

Tamas does not romanticize the environment, but rather takes a self-deprecating approach to the place he calls home. A veterinarian by trade, Tamas hones in on the relationship between the town’s people and animals. Livestock is used for work and for food, yet wanders in and out of the frames with a nonchalant attitude akin to the domestic animals. His exquisite balance of subtle humor and compassion reminds us that it is okay for art to make us laugh.

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