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Photographic Clichés

Given that there are so many photographs in the world, and given that there is such a breadth of visual recognition of tropes, cliches can serve an important role in art: they disarm, creating an opening for a message (this is assuming that a photographers wants to have a message, which isn’t a given). Cliches, when carefully used, can turn artists into undercover agents. But the key here lies on “when carefully used.” The temptation always is to give in to the cliches, because they are so appealing on so many different levels.

Real Serious Street Photography Clichés

(via and and […])

  • Plastic Whales
  • Shots of Backs
  • People Walking Past Monotonous Walls
  • people walking in front of advertising
  • the Too Small Subject
  • Supporting Tower of Pisa
  • Street Photography (according to Martin Parr (but “Parr is merely a clicheed version of his own earlier work”))
  • People on mobile phones
  • People juxtaposed with billboards
  • People yawning
  • People blinking (sleep walkers)
  • People taking photographs
  • People lying down in public
  • Statues and art appearing to interact with their environment
  • People obscured by trees
  • an hdr shot of a kitten at sunset
  • Faces obscured by balloons, flowers etc..
  • People perfectly positioned within a small frame within the frame
  • people carrying random objects (often unusual or unexpected)
  • Synchronised stepping
  • People mirroring each other's body postures, including people mirroring public art body postures.
  • People panhandling (while other people pretend not to notice them)
  • Pictures of the photographer's own shadow - amusing object/animal (e.g. pigeon) optional
  • Pictures of the photographer's own reflection in shop window - Rolleiflex optional
  • Person caught in mid-flight jumping over puddle
  • Urchins playing war games in derelict building
  • People obscured by umbrellas on rainy day
  • People drinking coffee in cafes - especially Parisian

generally cliché

(via and […] )

  • The girl looking into the mirror and the reflection is her dressed differently or whatever.
  • Anyone screaming, though I have one of a 7 year old doing that in my stream.
  • Pretty girl with a fur lined hood wrapping her face
  • Multiple clones of oneself
  • gas masks
  • a naked female with m+m's, rose pedals, pebbles, or any other small pieces of whatever covering her crotch
  • picture of a guy being lit by his computer
  • hand bra
  • any guns or ninjas, unless they really look legitimately like they should be holding a gun or is a ninja, ala Chase Jarvis' pics. Airchinapilot (Keith Loh) also just posted some nice gun pics from an actors gun training class.
  • smoke streams
  • anything splashing into a martini glass
  • view of the dashboard of a car in focus with street lights streaking by through the windshield
  • photographer taking a picture of himself/herself taking a picture of himself/herself in the mirror.
  • photographer taking a picture of another photographer taking a picture of the first photographer
  • when the two photographers from #14 create links between the pictures they each took so we can all see them taking pictures of each other from each perspective
  • Self Portraits made by pointing the camera into a mirror using one of those special left handed limited edition DSLRs made by nokiN or nonaC.
  • jumping
  • dripping faucet
  • heart bokeh
  • subject sitting on a toilet, especially if it's an attractive girl (some photographers will go to any length to get a girl to get naked)
  • popping water balloon
  • the stupid myspace shot, that camera held up overhead shooting down on yourself angle. Oh! And it is always from a cameraphone.
  • long exposures of spinning carnival rides
  • girls wearing both a bathing suit AND high heels.
  • A Single Leaf on Dirt, water, grass,stairs etc.
  • “Pointing out cliches.”
  • Underexposed sky with a female model, no contextual information for why she's there, and soft light coming in from camera right or left with an edge light from behind.
  • levitation pictures
  • Rings in books uk held by girls covered in m&m's shot in macro with flowers
  • strangers walking by an “interesting” wall.
  • Shots of Laser Mouse
  • over processed wide angle overblow rim portraits
  • “I rather fear there is a flickr group for every cliche on the list…”
  • the “hunched shoulders” pose in fashion photos
  • Blurry long exposure waterfalls
  • Shots of peoples gear collection, or how much they can fit in a daypack.
  • train tracks.
  • B&W single light source nudes
  • Building shots with super wide angles.
  • White farm fences.
  • Sub-atomic particle detector technicians, and anything with the Ogalthorpe look.
  • Roasted window poultry
  • picture frames. people holding picture frames. or stepping through picture frames..
  • Bokeh highlights of point light sources especially cheap 5 bladers or even worse hearts
  • Slow shutter night traffic tail lights
  • Scientists with test tubes conical bottles and over gelled backgrounds
  • Anyone holding a large spanner (except Bob)
  • HDR sunsets
  • macros of tap water / milk / coloured water drop splashes
  • Backlit flowers as seen through a drop of (tap water) mist
  • Scrap rusty iron
  • Super-wide-angle shots of cars from a corner of the front bumper
  • hummingbirds and flower macros and hdr hot-air balloons

Instagram Clichés → )

“Every photo book needs the following: a dwarf, a naked lady, a dog, an umbrella and a horse.” –Charlie Kirk


photographic_cliches.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/08 18:54 by nik