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Author Topic: The 101 Cliches of Photography  (Read 125234 times)
mmurph
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« Reply #60 on: August 04, 2007, 06:58:30 PM »
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Hey, I *like* my photos of piers and docks but don't have my photo of a field of hay bales -- yet (perhaps this year).  I request that these two subjects be removed from the cliche list!

just because they are on the list, it *does not* mean you cannot photograph them.

You just need to do one of two things:

1) Try really, really hard to be artistic and unique and capture the scene in a new way (which does not include using every available photoshop filter, that in itself is a cliche   ), or

2)  Be a retrograde folk artist who aspires to making "naive" folk art (kitsch) and drink whiskey and/or beer while "creating" your images (the booze adds to the persona and helps wipe out the usual angst of the educated, which normally serves to inhibit your making cliched pictures, and allows you to be an authentic naive/primative artist despite your education. At least until you reach a certain age, at which time you become an authentic reactionary old fart and cuss who just doesn't know better anymore anyway .)  
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cymline
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« Reply #61 on: August 04, 2007, 10:40:19 PM »
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It would seem that anything someone photographs could be a cliche' according to some posts here. And, in that case, I think the only photographs put in the cliche' category would be those seen by the viewer to be unsuccessful.
  I doubt if there is a subject on earth that has not been photographed thousands or more times. They all can be put into a general category and shoved into the overdone/cliche' column (ie. sunrise, sunset, ocean, mountains, happy kids, sad kids, etc) However, when you see a very good or great photograph (which of course is that particular viewers personal opinion) of a so called cliche', you don't see the cliche' first if at all. To simplify, when you see a photograph of something you have seen before and you don't really like the photo you might say "ehh, well, I've seen it before".  But, when you see a photograph you love of something you have seen before, you say "wow! that's a great photograph."  What you don't say is "wow! that's a great photograph but it's a cliche' so I refuse to like it".
 I think there are enough bitter artists and people in the world. Everything can be put in the cliche' category and put down or belittled. Let's enjoy each photograph on it's own merit and not shove it into some group because we personally don't like it. We do that enough with people.
  Photography should be enjoyed. If you see something that doesn't inspire you, move on to something that does.
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Ray
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« Reply #62 on: August 04, 2007, 11:51:25 PM »
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It would seem that anything someone photographs could be a cliche' according to some posts here. And, in that case, I think the only photographs put in the cliche' category would be those seen by the viewer to be unsuccessful.
  I doubt if there is a subject on earth that has not been photographed thousands or more times. They all can be put into a general category and shoved into the overdone/cliche' column (ie. sunrise, sunset, ocean, mountains, happy kids, sad kids, etc) However, when you see a very good or great photograph (which of course is that particular viewers personal opinion) of a so called cliche', you don't see the cliche' first if at all. To simplify, when you see a photograph of something you have seen before and you don't really like the photo you might say "ehh, well, I've seen it before".  But, when you see a photograph you love of something you have seen before, you say "wow! that's a great photograph."  What you don't say is "wow! that's a great photograph but it's a cliche' so I refuse to like it".
 I think there are enough bitter artists and people in the world. Everything can be put in the cliche' category and put down or belittled. Let's enjoy each photograph on it's own merit and not shove it into some group because we personally don't like it. We do that enough with people.
  Photography should be enjoyed. If you see something that doesn't inspire you, move on to something that does.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=131544\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hey! Cymline, this appears to be your first post. Welcome to the forum.

I tend to agree with what you've just written, but I sense here there are 5 basic categories of endeavour.

The photographer who makes a living by satisfying the customer, in which case, for good business, the customer is always right. If the customer is looking for cliches, then that's what you have to provide.

The amateur who's interest is perhaps mainly in the processes, the novelty, the excitement of the result and perhaps even in the achievement of professional cliched results.

The artist who has chosen photography in preference to painting as his/her medium and who feels the pressure to 'break new ground' as modern painters have since the invention of photography.

The snap shooter who has no pretensions about art but who is merely recording an event of some personal emotional significance. Blown highlights, blocked shadow may often be of little concern.

The scientific photographer who's main concern is with absolute accuracy and maximum detail.

However, the problem with categories is, they are unreal. The edges are always blurred. There's considerable overlapping.
 
I sense within myself all 5 categories at work to some degree, slight or great.
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Gordon Buck
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« Reply #63 on: August 05, 2007, 07:15:44 PM »
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As a photographer of a certain age, I claim an exemption from the ban on piers.  In fact, I've placed a slide show of my pier photographs on my webpage.

(Beware:  Some pier photos include sunsets!)

None of the pier photos include hay bales; however, in a few months, I hope to claim a similar exemption on hay bales.
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Ray
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« Reply #64 on: August 05, 2007, 08:50:21 PM »
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Gary Winogrand (according to discussions with a former student of his) took the position that effect of stacking up enough cliches in one photo could be transcendent.  An interesting proposition, but tricky, I would say.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=81554\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Nicely organised website, Gordon, even though there are a few photographic cliches there   .

It occurred to me that Russell has suggested a way out of our dilemma. Having identified our 101 cliches, we could then strive to include various combinations of some of them, 2 or more, in each photo. Cliche #1 plus cliche #5; cliche #7+#9+#99; cliche#1+#101 etc etc.

We could also sudivide each cliche into 'strong' and 'weak'. A blood-red sunset a strong cliche; a subtle hint of a sunset glow, a weak cliche. A full blown, obvious pier, a strong cliche; a few stumps of what was once a pier, sticking out of the water, a weak 'pier cliche' plus a strong 'derelict cliche'.

My maths is not too good. How many possibilities does that amount to?  
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Gordon Buck
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« Reply #65 on: August 05, 2007, 09:04:15 PM »
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Nicely organised website, Gordon, even though there are a few photographic cliches there   .

It occurred to me that Russell has suggested a way out of our dilemma. Having identified our 101 cliches, we could then strive to include various combinations of some of them, 2 or more, in each photo. Cliche #1 plus cliche #5; cliche #7+#9+#99; cliche#1+#101 etc etc.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=131679\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks, Ray.  I was thinking along the same lines regarding combinations of cliches but I was wondering "Do two wrongs make a right?"  Also, I remember enough math to know that a minus multiplied by a minus makes a plus.  

My goal is now to find a scene incorporating a pier, a sunset and a hay bale.
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Anthony R
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« Reply #66 on: August 05, 2007, 09:09:39 PM »
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Thanks, Ray.  I was thinking along the same lines regarding combinations of cliches but I was wondering "Do two wrongs make a right?"  Also, I remember enough math to know that a minus multiplied by a minus makes a plus. 

My goal is now to find a scene incorporating a pier, a sunset and a hay bale.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=131680\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Nice photos gordon.
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Rob C
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« Reply #67 on: August 06, 2007, 03:03:27 PM »
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Gordon - I really liked those Swiss Army Knives though I was alarmed to read that you carry them about with you: in the good ole UK you´d be on a police charge for that simple pleasure.

Ironic, really, when the safest way to move about in today´s UK is with the security of a Paulo Beretta tucked into your waistband; or possibly to remain at home and have a double do the walking.

Ciao - Rob C
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mmurph
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« Reply #68 on: August 08, 2007, 08:00:14 PM »
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Gordon,

Those piers are not yet true cliches. You are missing the kitschy, metaphorical title that tells the viewer what they are seeing.

They need names like "The Long Walk," which would be a picture of a pier with fog at the end, as a metaphor,  walking off the pier into fog being like walking into your own death  

A pier, sunset, hay bales, and a baby holding a kitten would do nicely.  Just be sure to think of a catchy title.

Wait, wait .... add an old man! "Begginings and Endings" is the tilte. It is *almost* a cliche, but it transcends cliche, because you have not one, but *two* beginnings, the kitten and the baby, and the baby is *holding* the kitten, and not one but *two* endings, the old man and the sunset, and that pier is ambigous and metaphorical by being both beginning and end, depending on how you look at it ....    

Just don't go to stoners for your philosophy - it will all be cliches! ("Wow, man, did you ever notice when you look at the sky just how small we are, like ....")  As opposed to something like Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason". Definitely not a cliche.    

Just have fun!

Best,
Michael
« Last Edit: August 08, 2007, 08:22:08 PM by mmurph » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #69 on: August 09, 2007, 04:39:06 AM »
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Here we go - ageism rears its ugly old(!?) head again. Why do you want to add me to your list of cliches just because I´ve graduated from my early flush(es) of youth?

Anyway, I´m concerned about piers ever since my dog fell off one whilst attached to her lead; took a hell of a lot of daring on my part to leap into the ocean and push her upwards in order to lessen the weight so that my wife could pull her back up without strangling her, breaking her neck (the pooch´s) or just getting arrested for imaginary cruelty (my wife or myself).

Ciao -Rob C
« Last Edit: August 09, 2007, 10:59:18 AM by Rob C » Logged

Gordon Buck
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« Reply #70 on: August 09, 2007, 10:01:32 AM »
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They need names like "The Long Walk," which would be a picture of a pier with fog at the end, as a metaphor,  walking off the pier into fog being like walking into your own death  

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=132241\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


My dad was in the hospital, very ill, but began to recover and I was able to leave.  Snow had fallen and in sufficient quantity to "stick"  -- very unusual for south Mississippi.  I saw this pier covered in snow and stopped to get a few photos of a snow covered pier on a snow covered beach against a really odd sky.  Then I noticed a set of footprints going out to the end of the pier and returning.

So I could write the cliched caption.
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Rob C
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« Reply #71 on: August 09, 2007, 11:06:15 AM »
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I don´t know how many of you guys see Black & White, the ´collectors´ magazine?

The current issue No. 52, Special Issue, is worth the price if only to serve as a permanent catalogue of what I see as memorable cliches.

From ghost village to blurred ocean to blurred waterfall, from shadows on the wall to strange portraits, it´s all there - a classic tome to illustrate this thread.

NB I have no commercial interest in this publication.

Ciao - Rob C
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #72 on: August 09, 2007, 02:58:20 PM »
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I don´t know how many of you guys see Black & White, the ´collectors´ magazine?

The current issue No. 52, Special Issue, is worth the price if only to serve as a permanent catalogue of what I see as memorable cliches.

From ghost village to blurred ocean to blurred waterfall, from shadows on the wall to strange portraits, it´s all there - a classic tome to illustrate this thread.

NB I have no commercial interest in this publication.

Ciao - Rob C
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=132337\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
If all these cliches are showing up in Black and White, then it suggests that cliches sell! So maybe we need more of them??? (At least if we want to sell photographs.)

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #73 on: August 09, 2007, 03:01:37 PM »
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Anyway, I´m concerned about piers ever since my dog fell off one whilst attached to her lead; took a hell of a lot of daring on my part to leap into the ocean and push her upwards in order to lessen the weight so that my wife could pull her back up without strangling her, breaking her neck (the pooch´s) or just getting arrested for imaginary cruelty (my wife or myself).

Ciao -Rob C
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=132290\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Rob,

You should have photographed this memorable scene. I'd say an under-water image of the backside of a half-submerged pooch, with a pier in the background would definitely not be a cliche-pier photo.

-Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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mmurph
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« Reply #74 on: August 09, 2007, 09:59:26 PM »
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Gordon, you take any photos you feel you should. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

But, unfortunately, they may not always communicate what you would like. I love to look at a photo of two dogs of ours who have since died, running through the snow and trees in Colorado when we lived there. Not very meaningful to others, just a snapshot - through a window - with a P&S. Nostalgia - I miss them.

OK, I'll argue the other side tonight.     I closed my studio 9 months ago because of chronic pain and chronic fatigue problems.  I haven't really done any meaningful photography since, paid or personal.

I told a friend who is an art professor that I would send him a portfolio of images of trees in my backyard, cats, and my feet. This is where the feet came from:

> did you see "Lost in Translation"? There is a Scarlett Johansson quote that I like:

"Charlotte: I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. I guess
 every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, horses... taking
 pictures of your feet"

So I got myself a hand-held 4x5 and wandered around for 1.5 months so far taking lots of pictures - about 100. Hard to take pictures of a cat with a 4x5.  

Haven't sorted through them yet, just got the negatives back from the lab.  But, I have to say, my results don't come anywhere near to those of Robert Adams in this little book, "I Hear the Leaves and Love The Light". About  52 pictures of his dog in his backyard. Unfortunately you can only see a couple here:

http://www.amazon.com/I-Hear-Leaves-Love-L...86708277&sr=1-5

Really a nice little work, and gutsy for an intellectual like Adams who is know for some more difficult work in the past.

Best,
Michael
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Ray
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« Reply #75 on: August 10, 2007, 02:12:02 AM »
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We should also not forget the potential that cropping has to reduce that 'cliched' effect.

For example, that cute photo of the pet cat with razor sharp whiskers (a total cliche) could be cropped in an innovative way. We could crop off half of its left ear, one third of its whiskers on the right and the whole of its left paw.

That might sound a bit sadistic, but could improve the photo.  
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Rob C
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« Reply #76 on: August 10, 2007, 03:12:01 AM »
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We should also not forget the potential that cropping has to reduce that 'cliched' effect.

For example, that cute photo of the pet cat with razor sharp whiskers (a total cliche) could be cropped in an innovative way. We could crop off half of its left ear, one third of its whiskers on the right and the whole of its left paw.

That might sound a bit sadistic, but could improve the photo. 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=132468\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ray, do you watch House?

Ciao - Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #77 on: August 10, 2007, 08:34:26 AM »
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Ray, do you watch House?


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Nope. Is this a British sitcom?
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Rob C
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« Reply #78 on: August 10, 2007, 02:05:28 PM »
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Nope. Is this a British sitcom?
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Ray - British star; US hospital location.

Ciao - Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #79 on: August 11, 2007, 04:47:35 AM »
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Ray - British star; US hospital location.

Ciao - Rob C
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Rob,
Are you trying to say that my recommendations for tight cropping reminded you of a hospital situation?  

I had in mind the paintings of Pierre Bonnard.

There's nothing so cliched as the female nude. Here are a few examples of Pierre Bonnard's treatment of the subject, just up your street   .

(1) Nude on bed missing half her right foot. [attachment=2981:attachment]

(2) Nude with missing knees.  [attachment=2982:attachment]

(3) Nude minus half her bottom and half a leg.  [attachment=2980:attachment]

(4) Nude in bathtub with missing foot and ankle.  [attachment=2979:attachment]

(5)  Very drastic situation for the bloke in this painting of Man & Woman.  [attachment=2978:attachment]

So you see, a bit of judicious cropping might just be able to rescue an image from the label of cliche   .
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