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Thread: 8 Of The Biggest Photographic Clichés

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    Formerly : Apollo62 ApolloLXII's Avatar
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    8 Of The Biggest Photographic Clichés

    1: THE ARMS LENGTH SELF PORTRAIT (SELFIES) - Most commonly seen on Facebook where almost everbody present in the shot has to pull some kind of weird face or leer at the camera (usually a mobile phone camera) as a means of expressing just how much fun they are having. This is hardly photographic in the strictest sense and just achieves nothing more than a snapshot of people acting stupid.

    2: THE HEADLESS NUDE - The idea behind this is so that the person posing for the photo won't be recognised. It's also the same sort of technique used to persuade girlfriends and wives to be the model in lieu of actually hiring someone professional to do the job. As most of these kinds of shots are done by amateurs, the results very rarely look any good.

    3: A CHILD'S FACE SMEARED WITH FOOD OR DIRT - If the subject is the child, they will say that it is cute. In my opinion, I'd rather see a cute smile on a child's face instead of food or dirt which has a degree of repulsiveness to it. YUK!

    4: SUNSET/SUNRISE - The sun rises and sets each day and as DSLR cameras begin to proliferate, so does the number of sunrise/sunset shots. There are two distinct types - one that has the sun rising/setting over a horizon and the other is compositionally formulaic involving foreground interest (eg: rocks), a rocky landscape extending away to the right into the middle ground with the setting/rising sun off set to the left. Most commonly seen in seascapes. Done to death and truly eye catching examples are a rarity.

    5: COLOUR POPPING - An all Black and white shot with one prominent point of focus rendered in colour, for example, a red flower. Beginners should learn that Colour Popping doesn't suit a lot of images and those that continue using this technique should learn that it's a one trick pony who went lame a long time ago.

    6: SHOTS OF HOMELESS PEOPLE - Unless you intend to shoot images for a photojournalism assignment, don't go bothering homeless people. It could be said that this is being exploitative and, as with any other human being, classed as being intrusive. Sit down and talk with them first and always ask permission to take their picture.

    7: SOFT or MILKY WATER - A technique involving the slowing of the shutter speed that renders water into a softer type of texture or as a mist. It's been done to death, particularly in the U.K. where some magazines rehash articles about getting that "milky effect" from time to time.

    8: OVERLY MANIPULATED PHOTOS - Photgraphs that look "weird" from having far too many effects and processes applied in Photoshop. Quite often, this kind of thing just kills a good photograph!
    Last edited by ApolloLXII; 15-01-2012 at 3:59am.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Cliches yes, but I see nothing 'wrong' with any of them, and the person who wrote it (I assume you are quoting what is written above and it is not your words), seems to have written it in a manner that makes it seem derogatory.

    The vast majority of people do not take photos to win awards, sell copies or market themselves. I would say well over 95% of all photos taken everyday are not done so by 'photographers', but rather by people just wanting to capture a moment in their lives.

    I reckon whoever wrote this, needs to get a life!
    Last edited by ricktas; 15-01-2012 at 8:05am.
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    I really feel that you are not a follower of any/most of these and agree totally with Rick here. I think the person who put forward these thought provoking points of disinterest is one of those Grumpy Old Men/Women I have seen on the tele..
    Graeme
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    It's all about the Light!
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    While any of the Clichés are valid for some 'togs sometimes, it's also good to try and do something different!

    All beginners should do some Clichéd shots just as a learning exercise.

    Eg. Everyone should do a milky water at some point for no other reason but to learn slow shutter speed and controlling the light.
    Ditto HDR, PP manipulation, family photos of kids with dirty faces.

    Then, once these have been learned, try something different, get creative!

    Clichés are very useful, just don't limit yourself.
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    I spent a lot of last year not taking photos because I felt I was only taking cliche photos. I really wanted to do something other sunrise seascapes, but could never find the time to branch and consequently barely shot anything. Won't be happening again this year, if I have time for a sunrise I will be shooting it, and as I live near the sea there will be plenty of seascapes. Hopefully I will also have time to branch out as well, but I won't be banking on it again. Considering we all lead busy work lives, I would think there is a lot of people in the same situation as me.
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by terry.langham View Post
    I...... I really wanted to do something other sunrise seascapes, but could never find the time to branch and consequently barely shot anything. Won't be happening again this year, if I have time for a sunrise I will be shooting it, .....
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    Formerly : Apollo62
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Cliches yes, but I see nothing 'wrong' with any of them, and the person who wrote it (I assume you are quoting what is written above and it is not your words), seems to have written it in a manner that makes it seem derogatory.

    The vast majority of people do not take photos to win awards, sell copies or market themselves. I would say well over 95% of all photos taken everyday are not done so by 'photographers', but rather by people just wanting to capture a moment in their lives.

    I reckon whoever wrote this, needs to get a life!
    I don't see anything "wrong" with any of them either. Photography, like any other art form, is subjective to personal preference and opinion. For every 10 people who don't like something, you can find 10 people who do. I actually collected these from various sources on the web and rewrote them because some of them were rather inflammatory but my aim was to generate discussion about percepted "cliché" type photos and garner the opinions of people who are actually into photography to see what they thought.

    I agree with Kym about beginners doing "cliché" type shots as a means of learning because that's how I cut my teeth in photography and would recommend the same to anybody starting out.

    This "grumpy old man" is now off to "get his life" but just wishes that it would stop interfering with his photography.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Apollo62 View Post
    4: SUNSET/SUNRISE - The sun rises and sets each day and as DSLR cameras begin to proliferate, so does the number of sunrise/sunset shots. There are two distinct types - one that has the sun rising/setting over a horizon and the other is compositionally formulaic involving foreground interest (eg: rocks), a rocky landscape extending away to the right into the middle ground with the setting/rising sun off set to the left. Most commonly seen in seascapes. Done to death and truly eye catching examples are a rarity.

    [...]

    7: SOFT or MILKY WATER - A technique involving the slowing of the shutter speed that renders water into a softer type of texture or as a mist. It's been done to death, particularly in the U.K. where some magazines rehash articles about getting that "milky effect" from time to time.
    I shoot a lot of seascapes, and naturally many such images contain those elements.

    It's just as well that I don't need to justify myself to anyone.

    When you think about it, there are very few photographers who are doing something truly unique.

    Most of the images you see have all been done before, and could just as easily by labelled as cliché shots by someone who has seen too many of them.

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    I reckon the challenge is to try and get all the Cliches into the one shot
    Cheers David.

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    Quote Originally Posted by terry.langham View Post
    I spent a lot of last year not taking photos because I felt I was only taking cliche photos. I really wanted to do something other sunrise seascapes, but could never find the time to branch and consequently barely shot anything. Won't be happening again this year, if I have time for a sunrise I will be shooting it, and as I live near the sea there will be plenty of seascapes. Hopefully I will also have time to branch out as well, but I won't be banking on it again. Considering we all lead busy work lives, I would think there is a lot of people in the same situation as me.
    The first thing you need to learn after you understand light, composition, exposure, etc., is not to give a damn what other people think.

    If seascapes is what you do, do it, do it well and enjoy it.

    It's what I do, too, and while some might arbitrarily label our images as cliché images, there are many more who will enjoy them.

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    Hmm, you see I wouldn't be calling just those cliche...many of the techniques of those who have posted above combine a number of these so-called cliche elements - Sunrise and Sunset can provide a lovely light for many other features...not just the seascape (Sorry only peeple I like the SR/SS type shots from round here are Xenedis and Dtoh....there is something way more there than a cliche, nothing personal for the rest of you ).

    I like to generally play with the cliche idea and take it to abstraction....for example if one follow the above to the letter this would be cliche by point 1...but is it really cliche?


    What about the use of HDR? to me I find it very cliche how many overly pushed HDR images there are out there. And yet some of my favourite images are carefully constructed HDR shots.

    I would also say shots of lightning are mostly cliche...there is an almost formulaic composition to 99% of them and I find them utterly dull...and even if someone shoots something different they end up cropping to that formula.

    I guess as Rick says, it all comes down to why the photograph is being taken. While certain shots might be cliche to us as photographers, they are capturing a moment of peoples lives and that makes them happy...so why not let them do it?
    Last edited by Xebadir; 15-01-2012 at 11:43am.
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    Ausphotography Regular Brian500au's Avatar
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    it is an interesting discussion.

    Last year I spent a lot of time doing portrait and glamour photography (all cliché), but it really helped me learn about posing, lighting, DOF and PP. I made plenty of mistakes, but I learnt with every session. This year I will do more of the above but also expand my horizons. I have been talking to a few models about doing more than the standard lingerie / nude / implied glamour shot - think outside the box. I cannot say it will ever be unique, but I can say it will not be the "standard" shot. I have even gone as far as to have brainstorming sessions with models now - just to throw it out there.

    I would never have the confidence to do this unless I had started like every body else in photography - getting better doing the standard cliché photograph (learning the various techniques). So as Kym suggested, cliché is a good place to start.
    Last edited by Brian500au; 15-01-2012 at 12:11pm.
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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    Boy, after reading this, there are no other photo options left!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian500au View Post
    So as Kym suggested, cliché is a good place to start.
    Definitely.

    I'd wager that most of us start out shooting anything and everything, which includes the usual shots of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and other over-photographed subjects.

    Sunrises and sunsets are very popular too.

    Model shots also suffer from the repetition that many other model shots have: scantily-clad girl in front of backdrop or draped over car, or on all fours at the beach.

    As you pointed out, learning is a big part of the process, and shooting done-to-death images is a good way to put that stuff into practice. It would be very rare for someone new to photography, who lacks understanding and experience, to go out there and do something revolutionary -- something nobody else has done.

    Once a person has acquired the knowledge and experience, branching out into a relatively unique style of image is something that the creative-minded and original-in-thought can aspire to do; but it's hard to do that sort of thing without covering the basics, and shooting images of tired old subjects is a good way to build up that skill set.

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    are you serious? Shelley's Avatar
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    I don't think birding can be cliche, the processing can be I suppose. Bird on stick maybe, but some stuff can be unique if you are out in the field long enough.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance B View Post
    Boy, after reading this, there are no other photo options left!
    I might start a new trend: HDR images of the insides of lens caps.

    Over-saturated, halated blackness just hasn't been recognised for its magnificence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelley View Post
    I don't think birding can be cliche, the processing can be I suppose. Bird on stick maybe, but some stuff can be unique if you are out in the field long enough.
    Pretty much anything can be given the term cliché by someone who's done it to death, or has seen it done to death.

    Here are just some:


    1. HDR images of cathedral interiors;
    2. city skylines at twilight;
    3. birds in beautiful light with creamy backgrounds;
    4. HDR images of abandoned asylums, factories, etc.;
    5. swimsuit models on beaches;
    6. city icons (SHB, SOH, etc.);
    7. steam trains;
    8. water droplets; and
    9. smoke swirls.


    Some people might be well and truly over that stuff, and while I don't care to see (or even shoot) another image of Sydney's famous bridge, for some people it's new and hasn't been done before -- by them.

    At the end of the day, we're fortunate enough in most cases to shoot what we like, even if it doesn't appeal to some people who've seen or done it all before.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Not to mention macro, false colour Infra Red, black and white, film, resolution test charts, brick walls, the moon, the stars .. and everything else in between!
    they're all clichés and there's nothing we can do about it.

    An individual's level of tolerance for each of the subsets is the only significant perspective.
    As already implied, what one person sees as a cliché, another sees it as an opportunity to partake in their preferred hobby, vocation or relaxation method.

    For me, I now have no tolerance for skin smothered beauty portraits any longer.
    But that is my preference .. similar but different to my preference for non instant and rehydrated hamburgers from the likes of Mc's and HJ's .. Try a proper greasy burger from the local burger specialist and the cliché of young folks happily devouring what amounts to toxic landfill also becomes irritating. If only those in the advertisements knew what they were really missing out on.
    Last edited by arthurking83; 15-01-2012 at 7:14pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    For me, I now have no tolerance for skin smothered beauty portraits any longer.
    AK83 I hope you meant skin "smoothed" otherwise there might be a bit of blood and gore in some of your future shots

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis Landscape Specialist Expert in anything slow shutter speed
    I might start a new trend: HDR images of the insides of lens caps.
    I think I've done that to death as well. I do try to avoid them
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