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Author Topic: My "do not shoot" list  (Read 51342 times)
popnfresh
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« on: February 22, 2011, 04:13:08 PM »
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Here's a list of things I will not shoot under normal circumstances for one reason or another. These are subjects that either have been photographed ad nauseum in the past by both myself and others or, in the case of homeless people, I feel that using them as photographic fodder is ethically questionable. By putting them on this list it helps me to move on to new photographic territory.

The list is neither final nor absolute, because under the right circumstances pretty much anything can be part of a compelling image.

The List:

Birds

Fire Hydrants

Standpipes

Mail Boxes

Homeless People

Handicapped People

Babies/Puppies/Kittens

Clouds

Sunsets/Sunrises

Artwork

Trash/Trashcans

Graffiti

Zoo Animals

Flowers

Doors/Windows


« Last Edit: February 22, 2011, 04:52:43 PM by popnfresh » Logged
Gordon Buck
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2011, 07:39:00 PM »
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Ah, nearly 5 years ago we had the infamous "101 Cliches of Photography" thread going quite strong, see http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=12710.0

Unfortunately, everyone had to stop photographing and just a couple of years later we entered economic recession.

... but I'm still searching for my ideal:  A pictorial showing a red barn, green tractor, golden hay bales and a small lake/pond with rotting wooden pier -- in sunset!  A white wooden fence would be nice, but optional. Likewise, a heron on the pond.
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2011, 08:05:43 PM »
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The only thing on your list that I agree with is shooting art.  I feel like it is a form of plagiarism.  If it is great art in its own right, then my photograph breaks no new ground and only attempts to co opt the original artist's accomplishment.

As for all the rest.  I try not to give myself too many rules.  There are enough of them already.  Certainly many of those subjects are cliched, but all photographers are victims of that crime.  As Gordon suggests, if we all avoided cliches, we would stop photography. 
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 08:20:50 PM »
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Here's a list of things I will not shoot under normal circumstances for one reason or another. These are subjects that either have been photographed ad nauseum in the past by both myself and others or, in the case of homeless people, I feel that using them as photographic fodder is ethically questionable. By putting them on this list it helps me to move on to new photographic territory.

The list is neither final nor absolute, because under the right circumstances pretty much anything can be part of a compelling image.


One of the luxuries we have as amateurs is the ability to decline photographs that we just simply do not want to make, so I have no issues with your post....almost.

I do see a possible problem though. You say its ethically questionable to photograph homeless people and then quickly add that you'll do it if it makes a "compelling" image (whatever that is)

Does making a great photograph free you from your own ethical standards, or have I misunderstood you?


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popnfresh
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2011, 01:00:40 AM »
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One of the luxuries we have as amateurs is the ability to decline photographs that we just simply do not want to make, so I have no issues with your post....almost.

I do see a possible problem though. You say its ethically questionable to photograph homeless people and then quickly add that you'll do it if it makes a "compelling" image (whatever that is)

Does making a great photograph free you from your own ethical standards, or have I misunderstood you?

People are in a different category than the other things on that list and I wouldn't photograph a homeless person without their consent merely because I thought it would make for an exceptionally good (compelling, if you will) picture. I don't like to photograph homeless people on the street any more than I would want to poke my camera into someone's living room window and record their private lives without their permission. Beyond the fact that it's illegal, I think it's also unethical. Homeless people are living on the street mostly because they have no other place to go. Photographing them without their consent puts them in the role of zoo animals. It's debasing and I don't think it's right. That said, I can envision scenarios in which photographing a homeless person would be perfectly ethical. For example, if they agreed to have you document their life. There's no reason a homeless person couldn't enter into that kind of collaboration. That's completely different than treating them as prey for your portfolio.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 01:21:21 AM by popnfresh » Logged
Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2011, 01:01:23 AM »
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[provocative thesis]
Its almost completely unimportant what you shoot, but not how you shoot it.
[/provocative thesis]

I remember a school mate who applied for a place at the art academy and was rejected.
He could do almost perfect copies of things in the style of van Gogh, Monet and other great painters.
After being rejected for one year he was drawing and painting only his own foot in various ways.
After that he got accepted.
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popnfresh
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 01:07:57 AM »
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The only thing on your list that I agree with is shooting art.  I feel like it is a form of plagiarism.  If it is great art in its own right, then my photograph breaks no new ground and only attempts to co opt the original artist's accomplishment.

As for all the rest.  I try not to give myself too many rules.  There are enough of them already.  Certainly many of those subjects are cliched, but all photographers are victims of that crime.  As Gordon suggests, if we all avoided cliches, we would stop photography. 
My list is just for myself. I'm not suggesting that anyone else should follow it. I made it as way to remind myself that if I'm going to shoot any of those things on the list it had better be a damned interesting photograph.
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popnfresh
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2011, 01:31:35 AM »
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Ah, nearly 5 years ago we had the infamous "101 Cliches of Photography" thread going quite strong, see http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=12710.0

Unfortunately, everyone had to stop photographing and just a couple of years later we entered economic recession.

... but I'm still searching for my ideal:  A pictorial showing a red barn, green tractor, golden hay bales and a small lake/pond with rotting wooden pier -- in sunset!  A white wooden fence would be nice, but optional. Likewise, a heron on the pond.

I like it. Giving yourself the assignment of shooting the greatest number of cliches in one scene. Brilliant.
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 01:47:00 AM »
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I would turn the tables around and make that a list of challenges:
try to make a fresh, interesting, non-cliche, photograph of each subject...
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popnfresh
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2011, 06:49:46 AM »
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I would turn the tables around and make that a list of challenges:
try to make a fresh, interesting, non-cliche, photograph of each subject...
I like that. The list is a high bar. It can be taken as either a barrier or a dare.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2011, 06:53:27 AM »
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I would turn the tables around and make that a list of challenges:
try to make a fresh, interesting, non-cliche, photograph of each subject...

Agreed.  Giving up on shooting something is an indicator that the mind is dead and any creative processes have stopped working.  To me anyway. 
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tokengirl
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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2011, 09:30:58 AM »
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The List:

Birds

Fire Hydrants

Standpipes

Mail Boxes

Homeless People

Handicapped People

Babies/Puppies/Kittens

Clouds

Sunsets/Sunrises

Artwork

Trash/Trashcans

Graffiti

Zoo Animals

Flowers

Doors/Windows



On the other hand, this is a pretty good list of things to attempt to photograph in new and more compelling ways.

Think about it.  What can you offer in a sunset photo that is new and different?  It would seem to me that this might be more of a challenge than resisting the urge to photograph these things altogether.
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« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2011, 09:47:42 AM »
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Pop,

Seems strange to me that anyone aspiring to be a photographer would truncate his alternatives that way. Here's the kind of thing you might be missing:

This guy -- you'd call him "homeless," I'd call him a "hobo" -- saw me on the street with a camera and said, "Take my picture." So I took his picture. Back in my office I made a 3.5 x 5 print, stuck it in a plastic cover, and stuck it in my pocket. I carried it with me on the street for a week or so until I saw him again. When I gave him the picture he started to cry. Finally, he said, "That's the first time anybody's taken my picture in twenty years."
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William Birmingham
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2011, 10:13:48 AM »
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I can not say that I have made a list as yet.
But there is one subject matter I try to avoid..
Children.

It is a shame as the energy and innocents of children makes for good photos.
These days however you get yourself in all sorts of arguments if you photograph other's children.
And who can blame them.. we live in a crazy world.

o.. did I need to say it? I am a man.
I wonder if woman also have this problem.

My solution is to take photos of other's pets.
Very much the same energy and innocence are found there.
You will not get the same scorn thrown your way, instead you might even be paid in smiles.

The exception to my own rule comes in by photographing my sister's children.
But that is for my sister's benefit and by no means for publication.

That is my thoughts..
-- Will
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popnfresh
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2011, 11:41:33 AM »
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Pop,

Seems strange to me that anyone aspiring to be a photographer would truncate his alternatives that way. Here's the kind of thing you might be missing:

This guy -- you'd call him "homeless," I'd call him a "hobo" -- saw me on the street with a camera and said, "Take my picture." So I took his picture. Back in my office I made a 3.5 x 5 print, stuck it in a plastic cover, and stuck it in my pocket. I carried it with me on the street for a week or so until I saw him again. When I gave him the picture he started to cry. Finally, he said, "That's the first time anybody's taken my picture in twenty years."

Russ, I think under those circumstances taking his picture was perfectly ethical.

And my list is not so much an absolute limitation on myself as it is a reminder for me to pause and think about how I could take an interesting picture of a cliche subject before I start snapping. The list is just something I keep in the back of my mind. I haven't bothered to write it down until now. But trust me, I produced more than my share of cliche images before I made the list. So yes, for someone starting out I would agree that they should just take whatever pictures they like and worry about mediocrity later.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 11:47:16 AM by popnfresh » Logged
ronkruger
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« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2011, 12:21:22 PM »
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I don't consider any subjects you mentioned off limits, but I do try to approach everything from a different angle, exposure, etc. For example, my main subjects are wildlife, but instead of standing way back with a 3,000,000mm lens, I work to get close and use nothing longer than 200mm.
I don't shoot homeless, but do see something special in some of the older characters I encounter.
A good arguement for shooting homelss people, is that society in general tends to ignore them and what they indicate about our "affluent" society. People don't look them in the eye or stop to talk to them. To me this is more morally deficient than taking their picture and maybe exposing their plight to the masses.
There's always a number of ways to look at things--and that's what photography is about.
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« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2011, 12:25:06 PM »
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Certainly many of those subjects are cliched, but all photographers are victims of that crime.  As Gordon suggests, if we all avoided cliches, we would stop photography. 
As I think it was Sam Goldwyn observed, "What we need now are some new clichés".

If it wasn't Goldwyn, it should have been.

Jeremy
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« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2011, 09:51:24 AM »
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Russ, I think under those circumstances taking his picture was perfectly ethical.

Pop, I didn't tell the whole story. For a long time back in the early teens I'd shoot hobo pictures on the streets of Colorado Springs, make prints, and give them to the drifters when I saw them again. At first I was just shooting on the street without warning, but it didn't take long before the drifters started asking to have their pictures taken. Here's another example. It's a little soft because the light was fading fast. Two years later I saw this same guy with a white cane. He'd drunk some methanol and gone mostly blind. Frankly, I don't think any of my hobo pictures are cliches, though, as always, that evaluation is in the mind of the beholder.
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« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2011, 11:25:45 AM »
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Mail Boxes ?

Do you really have a list that says "don't shoot Mail Boxes" ?



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« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2011, 12:39:32 PM »
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Mailboxes… here's some from Australia.







Cheers,


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