Don’t sweat the clichés

Whether they are clichés in post-processing like the use of selective colours, over the top tone mapped HDR images, the indiscriminate use of post processing filters, too much saturation or vignetting, etc. etc. or the clichés in subjects like sunsets, flowers, pets, extreme long exposures of buildings or Victorian piers on the beach, etc. etc.,  there is a risk that people are tired of looking at the results. On several blogs I see negative comments on nice and well composed photos with the only rebuke that the photo is a cliché and no other comment is given. That’s just silly.

To tell you the truth, I don’t mind looking at clichés, I don’t mind taking a photo that would be considered a cliché.  Of course, a photo from the same location and the same angle and exposure as everybody else’s will not be satisfactory to most including me and I think anybody who is serious about photography would get bored of those photos pretty quickly and start exploring other areas of photography. Once you get past the phase of photo postcards, there are libraries of photo books and gigabytes of examples online available of classic photography. But imitating the masters yields clichés. Indeed, passing an imitation off as the bees knees is not a good idea and it is always good to know when you are imitating somebody, but trying to figure out how a certain photo that appeals to you is made by exploring and copying the techniques used is just common sense. With a bit of luck one can stand on the shoulders of giants and take the next step.
To me, the problem is not the imitation or the cliché, but to me the problem is the repetition, not moving on and starting to imitate oneself. And I don’t think that only starting photographers are guilty of that.

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