There’s nothing new under the sun. So you’re going to find it very hard to be completely original. However, as you search for your own style, it’s well worth taking your time to get to know some of the more common clichés – and then avoid them like the plague.
If you’re not sure where to start researching photographic clichés, here’s a tip for you. Perhaps the best place to get started looking is the shop window of your local high street ‘portrait/wedding/commercial/news/social/I’ll photograph anything for cash’ photographer. Usually said windows are full of portrait and weddings as despite their claims to being masters of all trades it’s the bulk of the work they get! After you’ve taken in the dazzling view of gilt frames, smiling faces and blushing brides, go and look at another photographers window. Then come back and tell me they don’t look much the same! Chances are they will.
Of course I’m not knocking all High Street photographers. There are some very good ones, I’m just making the observation that these things follow trends. Back when I was a student one of the most noticeable of these trends was double exposures from weddings – the most common being happy couples superimposed onto wine glasses or the like. I wonder sometimes if it just takes one brides mother to insist on this or another similarly tacky device, having seen it done in someone else’s wedding album, to open the floodgates and create a fashion for a particular brand of ‘cheese’ for a while.
As well as the bride and groom being superimposed onto wine glasses, rings, flowers and every other wedding accessory imaginable, here’s a couple of others you might wish to consider for starters…
- The businessman sat behind a desk, pen in hand, looking at the camera before signing a mission critical post-it note
- The pensive chin rested in hand look
- The girl with the faux model one hand on hip look
- Selective colour
- Over processed HDR
- Pointless soft focus or vignette effects….
Obviously there are many more – I could spend all day trying to cover them. As a rule of thumb if you think it’s kind of cutesy and have seen it done a thousand times it’s a cliché.
These things used to grate on me enough back in the days of film. However, back then it took time and money to make them up so despite being trite, they were often well executed. Not so nowadays. The digital age and photo editing software has not just filled the world of clichés, it’s filled the world with millions of very poorly executed clichés. Don’t add to it!