Reflections on the "cliché" in photography

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by sjmurray, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. Over the years I have been one of those photographers that has tried to avoid taking too many images that are blatant clichés. The cliché seems to represent the “obvious,” the “easy,” the “unimaginative,” and so on. No self-respecting fine-art photographer would do cliché images if he/she were trying to make a name for him/herself in the art gallery world. However, just looking at the most highly rated images on pnet, for example, one can see that images of sunsets on the ocean, mountains, mountains with sunsets, idealized images of children, old men’s faces, lots of birds in flight, and so on, dominate the ratings, indicating a great general popularity. It’s easy to see that some very competent photographers do nothing but stereotypes and clichés, such as images from Yosemite. Indeed, most clichés, like sunsets, are regarded generally as “beautiful” to most viewers for various reasons, some of which may even be deeply rooted in our archetypal “templates” since humans have been looking at sunrises and sunsets literally since we crawled out of the primal mud.
    Interestingly, I recently printed and framed a couple of 10 x 15 inch prints for our upstairs hallway, and guess what? Both are clichés! One is a stream running through the woods where I have been biking with Lily, our Border Collie for over 10 years now: http://www.photo.net/photo/17600509&size=lg The other image is a sunset shot of a lake in the same park; an image we see every day when doing our daily run: http://www.photo.net/photo/17600501&size=lg Why did I choose these clichés to look at on a daily basis?
    To help answer this I did a search on the photographic cliché and I found an article by Annebella Pollen: http://eitherand.org/reconsidering-amateur-photography/when-cliche-not-cliche-reconsidering-mass-produced/
    Pollen presents an interesting thesis just on sunsets, the most ubiquitous form of cliché worldwide. I think Pollen hits on some of the reasons we all do some form of cliché images, whether on purpose or instinctively:
    “Patterns exist because they show what matters to people. The ‘evidence’ of numerous photographs of sunsets as a popular subject, then - whether in the historical archive or in contemporary online photo-sharing sites - cannot be simply grouped as one-of-a-kind and thus be adequately dealt with quantitatively, whether there are fifty-five thousand, nine million or sixty billion. It might be more fruitful to consider these thematic photographs as forms of antanaclasis – a rhetorical linguistic form that has been linked to photography by Victor Burgin - signalling “repetition with different significations, or one repeated picture with different captions” [18] Sunset photographs may all look the same, but the meaning changes with each one. As Richard Dyer has argued about stereotypes: they “are a very simple, striking, easily-grasped form of representation but are none the less capable of condensing a great deal of complex information and a host of connotations". [19] Even stereotypes and clichés carry complexities and nuances. Just like sunsets, then, every sunset photograph is different.”​
    I must conclude that the reason I choose two typical clichéd images for hanging in our hallway, is similar to what Pollen says: These images “matter” to me; they are different from other people’s cliché’s, and they are an “easily grasped from of representation but are none the less capable of condensing a great deal of complex information and a host of connotations". These particular images for me represent years of pleasure, biking through these woods with my beloved dog Lily. I cannot look at them without feeling strong emotions, and memories, and gratitude for the good fortune of having been able to have this experience in my life.
    I’m wondering how other photographers here feel when choosing to embrace or avoid the cliché in their personal approach to photography. Is it an issue at all?
     
  2. From my pov, there are ways to pump in some fresh air into tons and tons of cliches. But, one has to decide whether it fits their style, bla bla bla. Lots of iconic spaces have been done to death and doing it differently may not be easy. Sometimes different weather helps, sometimes clouds, sometimes a filter will smudge-out the clouds, sometimes going infrared will help, sometimes a pano, sometimes a b&w, and so on....
    For instance, I rarely take shots of sunsets, well unless there is something different about them. Under most circumstances it becomes a post card....and we all have seen this show before. Don't know about you or anyone, but I try to deviate from the "norm", even though I'm fully aware of standards, the rule of thirds....and to some degree, at least in theory, have "pillars"....from P. Strand, to A. Adams, to slew of painters, cinematographers and other visual artists.
    Anyhoo, what you do with it is up to you...it's subjective afterall.
    Les
     
  3. Hi Steve.
    Yes, those images, you listed are cliches, and a general population like them, because they do not have to think or feel of nothing, they just mesmerized by the red orange colors, etc. Those images like alcohol, make you happy for a short time. My mother used to tell me, my privet art teacher, do not paint sunset or sunrise images, because those for the general people whom do not have a fine sense or education or talent for art, and those images are kitsch. (Dictionary. " art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way")
    Sometime our sentimentality over powering our good test or sense for real art.
    Regardless, I myself photographed a couple of those sunsets and sunrise image, but not prizing them highly. Some of them, I turned to B&W instead, and never hang them on the walls for decoration even for sentimental reason. Lately, I removed all my color photographs of my hallway, and replaced them with B&W prints only.
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  4. Not every person who picks up a camera does so with the intention of being an artist. There are many reason why a person may take pictures. While such a person may take nothing but cliched pictures, ultimately it won't matter to them because the pictures will be theirs, it will be unique if only to them...and that's a wonderful thing.
     

  5. Not every person who picks up a camera does so with the intention of being an artist.​
    Marc is right on...furthermore, I would argue most just shoot for future memories to share.
     
  6. Why did I choose these clichés to look at on a daily basis?​
    Because they're pretty. Because they're yours.
     
  7. Steve J Murray wrote in the OP: " ... for our upstairs hallway ... "
    A hallway is a place of passage. Art of any character interrupts your movement -- should not settle for being passed by. To put good art in a hallway is to create a problem, an irritant.
    Clichés, on the other hand, don't interrupt; they confirm.
     
  8. "Is it an issue at all?" No. Apparently. Clichès are good and they are there (here) and they need (must / has) to be used. Besides, it is practically impossible to get read of them anyway, so - learn not to bore yourself out of selfpresumed sophisticatedness and start to admire - it's better like this.
     
  9. I think that at this point in the evolution of photography, just about everything has become a cliché, no matter what you do with your expensive well-reviewed camera and your limited lenses.
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  10. It's all been done before, it's just how much soul you put into your craft that differentiates yourself from others. We all tend to focus on our gear way too much instead of developing a better eye for photography.....and I'm #1 on the list. Which is probably why I'm bored with it all.
     
  11. >>> Not every person who picks up a camera does so with the intention of being an artist.

    For sure. Also, in some cases where photographers work so hard towards that intention, in the end produce work that
    appears forced/stifled/cliched/formulaic/uninspired, (and for me) miss the bar with respect to being "art."
     
  12. Bela, I must respectfully disagree. From the fact that the subject of a photograph may be one that is common and ordinary when it comes to the possible range of human experience, it does not follow that the photograph itself will be common or ordinary. Just look at the incredible variety of images available for viewing on this site. So many of them involve making photographs of ordinary subjects in an extraordinary way. But, given your experience and training, I'm sure I'm not saying anything new to you.
    You use the term "sentimentality" in connection wit the phrase "real art." One definition of this term (from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary) is: "the quality or state of being sentimental especially to excess or in affectation." As it is used in everyday parlance, the term often takes on a pejorative element. Consider utterances like "crass sentimentality," "blatant sentimentality," or gushing with sentimentality."

    I'm sure you see that human emotion and its various modes of expression - in this case, photography - is not limited to sentimentality per se. The upshot is that I am not going to set myself up to judge the depth, the legitimacy, the authenticity, etc., of another person's emotion. And to the extent that another person's emotion is bound up in a particular photograph that person shot, I am not at all comfortable in saying that the photograph is not "real art."
     
  13. In my mind, it comes down to the question of why you takes pictures, why you pursue photography. Are you doing it to express yourself? Are you doing it to make money and support yourself and your family? Or some other reason entirely?
    You specifically mention "fine-art photographers". Do you consider yourself to be one, or aspire to be one? Not all photographers do. In my mind, "fine art" implies that someone is creating art to express themselves, to make some sort of statement. In that arena, the only thing that matters is whether or not the picture being taken is something that speaks to the photographer, that represents what the photographer is trying to express. In the end, the only thing that matters is whether the photographer is pleased with the final result. Keep in mind, other viewers might very well consider the photograph to be "clichéd", based on their own experiences. There will always be differences of opinion. But for the fine art photographer that should be less important than whether they personally derive satisfaction from their own photographs.
    On the other hand, if someone is trying to support themselves via photography, then the desires of the viewer need to be taken into consideration. Will others like this photograph? Will others like it enough to BUY it? Can I sell it to a stock agency? Etc. In those situations, what matters most is whether potential customers will like the photograph, not whether it is "clichéd". But this is the realm of "professional" photography, not "fine art", in my opinion.
    Of course, the problem arises when someone is trying to do both, be a fine art photographer and express themselves, and at the same time sell their photographs and support themselves through photography. The line between doing things for yourself and doing them to please others has to be blurred at that point, and it's up to each individual to decide how blurred those lines are.
     
  14. Art is in the eye of the beholder. It's art if the viewer thinks it's art, not the photographer. The photographer's feeling doesn't count except in his or her own mind. The photographer is dealing with his ego, which is a bad judge of anything real. Of course he's going to say his work is art. The disinterested viewer doesn't have his ego in the photo, unless they're an art dealer or family member telling you how wonderful you are, so their viewpoint is more honest. But in the end, art must move the viewer. Sorry, but the photographer is nobody and his work isn't art unless the viewer thinks it is.
     
  15. Image making is meant to communicate to either oneself or a broad audience whether intent is implied, amplified or acquired by sheer accident.
    There are folks without thinking about it or implying intent who have taken quick snaps that have become "fine art" by way of the happy accident. The "Raising The Flag On Iwo Jima"... http://a57.foxnews.com/global.fncstatic.com/static/managed/img/660/371/iwojima12m.jpg?ve=1&tl=1 is an example, an image so indelibly singed into the public's mind that the photo as been turned into a sculpture AND A MOVIE!
    By the definition established in this thread it would be considered a cliched depiction of your typical newsreel footage of boots on the ground infantry warfare...BORING!. But there is still intent behind that image communicated in its angled and triangulated V-shape chevron composition that implies human force, movement, perseverance at the same time almost mimicking the very shape of the badges of ranking those soldiers wore. It now becomes a collection of positive and negative shapes in a cohesive design that work to communicate an emotion and spirit in and of itself. And it was shot at the worst time of day with the sun overhead.
    Now reverse engineer what I just described about that cliched image in order to derive original intent and apply it to whenever you get the hankering to point the lens and trip that shutter because that photographer that took that image didn't stop to think about it. He saw, he reacted. There's your intent. You'll see it in any image regardless of the subject even if it's cliched.
    Was Ansel Adam's choice of scenes shot of Yosemite cliched? Yes. Anybody with a P&S could've captured the same scene just like it was any other sunset. Was AA's intent he communicated in his prints through darkroom tonemapping cliched? NO!
     
  16. Way back in 1968 I was fortunate to spend about a month with Ansel Adams in Yosemite. Our paths crossed on a common interest other than photography, though I was an advertising photographer at the time. Ansel had a number of visitors in a semiformal class structure and went out every day. His assistant brought his equipment every day. Yosemite is full of photo opportunities and everyone -- except Ansel took lots of pictures. In that month I think Ansel may have exposed a single sheet of film. I asked him about that. I learned that Ansel didn't take pictures with his camera, but with his mind. Once he had the picture in his mind, he used the camera to capture that image. If the image he had in mind wasn't there to be captured, he didn't open the shutter. Being in a beautiful and photogenic (and cliché) place, doesn't mean you have to play.
     
  17. Thanks for all the responses everybody! I tend to agree with what Pierre said:
    I think that at this point in the evolution of photography, just about everything has become a cliché, no matter what you do with your expensive well-reviewed camera and your limited lenses.​
    And I don't think that is negative at all. Again, from the article by Annebella Pollen I quoted earlier, that cliche's are an:
    “easily grasped form of representation but are none the less capable of condensing a great deal of complex information and a host of connotations".​
    Julie, my hallway is one of the only places to hang two photos side by side, and I really don't mind being "interrupted" to stop and enjoy the memories.
    Chris, by "fine art photographers" I was referring to photographers who are trying to make it in the major art gallery circles. This is a rather refined group that is accepted into this category only by creating completely original concepts: the opposite of cliche. Any type of cliche image would not be accepted by curators in this league, unless of course it was part of a larger conceptual work based on cliches.
    Tim, I don't consider Ansel's work in Yosemite as cliche because he was the first to do it wasn't he? Maybe I'm wrong, but I think he was the first to seriously make really strikingly artful images of that area. After him, everyone else doing Yosemite is more likely to be cliched.
    Here's an interesting article by Martin Parr on cliche in photography. http://www.martinparr.com/2011/photographic-cliches/
    The Fine Art and Documentary photographers take great pride in thinking themselves superior to the other main genres of photography, such as the family snap shooter or the amateur photographer, as personified by camera club imagery. However, after 30/40 years of viewing our work, I have come to the conclusion that we too are fairly predictable in what we photograph.
    I include myself in this, and have been very careful to try and think of new territories to explore, but recognise that very often I also indulge in the list outlined below. I am aware of the basic rules, which dominate our work, and want to now attempt to group some of the more dominant strands of contemporary practice.
    This core subject matter and approach is also constantly shifting and changing as new photographers arrive and have an impact on our accumulative photographic culture and language. I have a rapacious desire to look at new work and do this through books, magazines, and of course exhibitions. Most of the work I see is generic; in so far I can read the influences. It is when the inspiration and lineage is not clear that my attention is alerted. I used this as a guiding principal for the recent curating of the Brighton Photo Biennial, and made freshness of approach to the subject matter a major criteria for selection.​
    He goes on to list 13 "basic genres" currently seen in photography today.
     
  18. These sorts of shots are not cliches. They are genres.
    Just because a word is used in a new context, that doesn't mean that its negatives go along. "Easy as pie" is a cliche. "Easy as boiling water in a steel mill" is not. (I just made it up.) Cliches are exact copies; expressing the same idea differently is not a cliche.
     
  19. No self-respecting fine-art photographer would do cliché images if he/she were trying to make a name for him/herself in the art gallery world.
    There is your problem. You're not asking what looks nice, what is in some deeper way aesthetically pleasing, or what you / we / one likes to look at. What most people like to view on their screens and see on their walls is waaaaaay different from what sells in snooty galleries.
    As for "make a name for [one]self in the art gallery world", that often requires being (or at least seeming) different, and often involves a major dose of emperor's-new-clothes group psychology. And as for self-respecting fine-art photographers, IMOPO, anybody who calls his own photographs "fine art" is somewhat more likely to be a poseur, wanna-be, or hack than a true fine artist; what is truly fine art (or art at all) is so subjective. Indeed, IMOPO, so much of what passes for art these days is garbage put together by "artists" lacking true artistic talent and/or more interested in trying to make names for themselves in the art gallery world than in creating any media-based representations of beauty, truth, insight, or something valuable like that.
    Now excuse me, I'm off to plan my shots of the anticipated results of running the lawn sprinkler all over my backyard on what's expected to be the coldest night (in our warm climate) in a decade or so. Icicle (especially artificially-created icicle) shots are no doubt to some cliché, but they can look pretty nice / cool, and will create a small memento for my kids.
     
  20. No self-respecting fine-art photographer would do cliché images if he/she were trying to make a name for him/herself in the art gallery world.
    Of course not. Generally, creating something original is a prerequisite to acceptance into the fine art gallery world. Some people think that world is simply snooty, and some of it is. But I would think such a generalization is silly. There is some incredible work, and appreciation of work in the fine art world that is worth knowing and studying. Culture and knowledge, though I lack both, are worthy endeavors and it just sounds like sour grapes to deny it, much like creationist denying science and facts as being secular liberal snobbery.
     
  21. I don't consider myself an artist by any stretch of the imagination - fine or otherwise. But I do take an interest in it. Not sure I see anything
    done with a camera that is really original, except to people who aren't well-acquainted with what has come before.

    Bottom line: take the pictures that you feel. Just the fact that something motivated you to press the button is reason enough.
     
  22. Not sure I see anything done with a camera that is really original, except to people who aren't well-acquainted with what has come before.​
    Unfortunately we don't see the possibilities of something new until we actually see something new.
     
  23. idealized images of children,...​
    More cameras are sold for shooting our kids than any other reason. When someone comes to my house they glance at a landscape, nod at a collage photo, then stop to query me about my family pictures. So it will be. No one will bid for them at Sotheby's but they give us love and happy memories. A wedding photographer said he tried some unusual poses and backlighting. People always bought the standard set ups.
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  24. And a Kodak moment. Clichedom. Irresistable.
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  25. Gerry: Yeah. She's better. Al.
     
  26. Dave and Barry, I must have hit a nerve there! I don' t believe this is a "silly generalization" unless you are being overly sensitive about it. I'm definitely not denigrating art photography, just making the observation that what is shown in major modern art galleries is more conceptual and judged on that basis. Curators are not looking for overdone genre's or cliches. I'm not putting this down in any way. I can see that there is a wide range of photography, from this type of modern gallery work, to the everyday scenes we see so much of on this site. Both are very valid and important. That's the main idea of my original post. I do not attempt conceptual photography myself, and I am not trained in art enough to know how to begin. I love photographing people, kids, and animals in a natural, documentary manner. This is now a rather common genre, but I still prefer to to it because I like to capture real moments. My work will not appear in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, however. I know that because the photography curator there is familiar with my work and I have never been invited to do a show! My original post was not intended to put down either modern art photography, or cliches, common genres, etc. If you read all the way through what I said, it was a affirmation of the importance of the common types of images. As Pollen stated: "Patterns exist because they show what matters to people." I may have started out in my early years trying to avoid cliches, but as I get older I am understanding the value and importance of the types of images that people do over and over again. Gerry, nice photos; you are proving what I have said! If you look at my folders, you will see I have been photographing my daughter literally since the day she was born, and now I am photographing her daughter.
     
  27. I'm of the school of thinking that there's really no cliched images, just cliched intent. For example due to so much exposure in the media and online we've all become quite familiar with the P&S and cell phone snaps of everyday life as being a cliched type shot of that particular scene. The intent is quite clear but some get lucky but it's rare just like the "Raising of the Flag at Iwo Jima" shot.
    My local news station posts tons of these snaps people send in of accidents, thunderstorms, community picnics and get togethers, camping, hunting and fishing trips. They're all considered cliched by the way they look because of the shooter's obvious intent behind taking those shots.
    I don't go to my local online news station to look at those type of images, but I do have shots of similar scenes and subjects. What makes mine different from theirs is that my intent is clearly not cliched going by how I approached the capture of the scene and reacted with regard to timing, framing, composing, waiting for the right light, using my hand to block flare and the subsequent post processing applied.
    Now you could take those cliched iNews submitted photos and shoot in that style as a means to communicate a different intent either to ridicule that type of scene or turn into a surreal image. Some photographers have done this to very good effect as a way to turn the original intent behind the capturing of those types of images on its head. The intent will always convey what the photographer is thinking in this regard.
    BTW, Steve, I love your "Crosby Park Stream" shot for its ambience, texture and color and don't consider it cliched at all. If it had clever rule of thirds composition then it would take away from the ambience and look too commercial. But sure wished you cloned out that drain pipe. It's smack in the center and my eye went right to it. :)
     
  28. No, didn't really hit a nerve. I stated that the generalization of stating that the fine art world is "snooty" is a silly generalization because it is. Simple as that.
     
  29. Tim, yes, as quoted in the Pollen article (Richard Dyer)"Even stereotypes and clichés carry complexities and nuances. Just like sunsets, then, every sunset photograph is different.” My original post here was to emphasize this idea. Furthermore, the cliche type images I might make have special meaning to me personally. We all like sunsets, but we like our own sunsets more, because they have personal meaning. BTW the pipe in my stream image is as much a part of this place to me as the rest of it. That is that "personal" meaning I'm talking about.
    I also agree, that once you begin to really change the intent of certain types of images in order to give them a completely different meaning, you are now a conceptual artist, and the modern art gallery curators will be showing your work!
     
  30. Barry, I never tried to imply that the fine art world is "snooty." I don't believe it is. I think you are reading into what I said and looking for an argument. I know that major galleries focus more on conceptual art photography, and that is a distinct and important aspect of photography. I do think appreciating and understanding this type of photography requires some education in art and art history.
     
  31. Steve, no worries. I tried to couch my response as generalizations to which there are exceptions, and I was not at all offended. I do think that a substantial segment of the 'fine art' universe is pretentious and/or junky. No doubt that in some part results from my own ignorance / inexperience / lack of vision / lack of context. More power to those who explore new and different artistic angles. However, IMOPO, the more different it is, the more likely it is to / the more frequently it does fall into the category of 'failed experiment' instead of into the category of 'worthwhile artistic innovation'. Clichés usually get to be clichés for a reason--they work / are true / look good / etc. In the end, I don't worry much about such things, I just try to take pictures that memorialize life and/or please my family and myself.
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  32. Galleries are in business for one purpose: To make money. To that end, they are going to sell work that they think will have the broadest possible appeal. Work that is truly outstanding and unique rarely has that kind of mass appeal.
    For example, last summer in LA's China Town there was a street photography exhibit. Such exhibits are rare enough but this one featured a handful of of living, contemporary photographers. I attended the opening night. About 20-25 photographs comprised the exhibit. Out of that total, there was only one that really stood out to me as a strong image. There was one other that I was kind of fond of but it was a stretch. The rest of the pictures I found to be...well, cliched in a gimiky kind of way. I wasn't surprised to see these kinds of street photos at the exhibit; they tend to get a lot of kudos in the street forums at flickr. Now maybe these photographers (none of whom were familiar to me) had stronger work that the gallery owner(s) passed on; who can say?
    Anyway, about a week or so later I went back to the gallery for a 2nd look to see if I felt any different about any of the work. I did not. This time I took a companion with me, a young lady who had recently asked me if she could tag along with me one day while I went shooting so she could watch. She wanted to get more into street photography and thought she could learn from watching me. Normally I prefer to shoot alone, but she must have caught me in a rare good mood because I consented and we met at Union Station where we talked for a bit and she watched me take some snaps there and then we walked to the gallery as I took more shots along the way. I wanted to get her take on the exhibit. I allowed her to go at her pace and when she finished viewing the pictures on the wall I asked her what she thought. She pretty much had the same reaction I did. So we went back to the beginning and discussed the pros and cons of each picture. I pointed out how technical errors flawed some pictures and how poor composition or poor choices of subject matter resulted in lack of content or a confusing mish-mash of elements. She listened intently and afterward we went back outside and headed back to Union Station.
     
  33. I saw that show you are talking about and know several of the photographers in it, including the judges. It wasn't always their strongest work, but did you know about the parameters of the show? The participants were pre-selected after submittal of a small portfolio, then the nominees were required to provide 3 photos taken in the one block radius around the gallery. I think they had a month or less to complete and print. So it was kind of a gimmicky proposition. However, what was nice was a gallery was willing to show local street photographers. Maybe the work wasn't all stellar, but the photographers were pretty excited about it. I thought we saw each other their that opening night, no? I thought there were a few photos I really liked, but you are right, I thought a lot of the print quality alone was sort of funky. Some of that was due to the last minute-ness of some the photogs.
     
  34. I think you are reading into what I said and looking for an argument.​
    Am not:)
    Steve, I think the general expression I was stating was related more to a train of thought I had after reading David's comments. Not yours. I made a general statement, about a common sentiment that gets expressed quite often. It didn't have to apply to you unless you took it that way. My response to you afterwards was just to confirm that I haven't seen anything written here to change my mind.
     
  35. Barry, you are thinking of the Think Tank Gallery exhibit from several years ago. The one I brought up was last July and was called "Common Ground. New American Street Photography." It was held at Drkrm gallery which apparently has closed. The Think Tank Gallery exhibit you mention I also thought was a mixed bag, but an interesting idea (even though one photographer decided to stage a fashion shoot and call it "street" lol)
     
  36. Ah yes the New American Photographs. Yes, agreed. I know one of the guys, who was formerly from L.A. - You are correct though.
     
  37. If lots of people find something beautiful, over and over, isn't that what we should aim for?
    What's bad is when someone takes a snapshot and doesn't try take the best shot possible
     
  38. The participants were pre-selected after submittal of a small portfolio, then the nominees were required to provide 3 photos taken in the one block radius around the gallery. I think they had a month or less to complete and print.​
    What a concept for a gallery to bestow on its community...photography as an obstacle course. I'ld rather be potty trained at gun point.
    mmh, wonder if that would make an interesting non-cliched photograph.
     
  39. Yes, Tim, that would make a great photo! Particularly if you didn't warn the trainee ahead of time. Not cliche - definitely high art.
     
  40. Martin Parr, in his 13 genres, doesn't include "The nude", which is also a genre and a genre that also can invoke cliché. But we don't find the nude blasé, just well done or not, few would question the nude as a worthy subject. So I suppose I shouldn't question sunsets, etc. much.
     
  41. "Few would question the nude as a worthy subject." - Charles W
    Is that so? Going by some the comments this picture has received, I think some people come to nude photography with quite a bit of bias as to what is acceptable and what is not. More so then with sunsets and waterfalls anyway.
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  42. I'm not so sure that example is a cliché though Marc.
     
  43. I don't think it is either Charles, I was joking a bit with my choice of labeling that image for this thread.
     
  44. Marc I'm sorry but nudes should not be posted in the general forums. You should post it somewhere else at least with maybe a link. But it doesn't belong here and should be deleted.
     
  45. Alan, not to unnecessarily quibble with you, but to be fair, the gentlemen is wearing sandals, a watch, a belt, and what I hope isn't a nitro patch.
     
  46. Well, he should be wearing shoes at least.
     
  47. No problem, how does one delete this photo from the thread? Maybe the admins can do this, I don't seem to find a way to do this....
     
  48. I'm not quite sure I like that the thread I started has ended with an old nude guy! Is there a nudist genre, and are photos of old nude men cliches? Hmmmm. I wonder. I'll think I'll go to bed now, and I'm not going to lose any sleep over these deep questions.
     
  49. You might be able to make a case for cliché as a visual form of folklore. Maybe ... kind of, sort of ... (validation and transmission of culturally shared values/beliefs, etc.)
     
  50. Exactly my point Steven and the reason why uploaded that pic. There are always accepted standards and nudes are no different. Many seem to be rather soft focus, high contrast, obviously shot in a studio, so common as to be kind of cliched if at least not over-done. Mine above may be more documentary because of the nature of the photograph and it has none of those traits mentioned, but it is still a nude. The fact that the subject in my photograph may not fit accepted standards of physical beauty yet he presents himself with full confidence in who he is is why I like this photograph.
     
  51. I like that idea, Julie. That folklore: “also includes the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared.’(Wikipedia) sounds a lot like: “easily grasped form of representation but are none the less capable of condensing a great deal of complex information and a host of connotations".(Pollen article).
    Marc, yes, your nude guy certainly seems to be a form of documentary photography, which is a genre a lot of us practice, as opposed to "nude photography," which seems to me to encompass several variations ranging from the harsh lit porn style to the soft, gauzy "arty" style.
    I guess unless you are inventing a completely new style of photography you will inevitable be following in the footsteps of others in the path of certain genres and/or cliches. I'm OK with that. I love doing "documentary" or "candid" portraits, and, outdoor scenes and misc. abstracts which fall inevitably into various genres and cliched categories.
     
  52. I actively avoid shooting what I feel are clichés. I have a DO NOT SHOOT list that includes the homeless and people using cell phones.
    Abstract nudes are often clichés. Landscape photography at famous locations tends to be full of clichés, especially in the American Southwest. How many photos of Delicate Arch, the Mittens, the Wave, and Horseshoe Bend does that world really need? If you're going to shoot at these locations, at least come up with a fresh perspective.
     
  53. A cliche is a sentimentalized portrayal of a sunset, stream or other common scene. Clear-eyed views of such scenes, such as the ones you picked to hang in your hallway, are not cliches, in my opinion.
     
  54. This subject got me to question whether "The photo that comes with the frame/wallet" type stock photography image style can be considered a cliche. Though professional looking these types of portraits are never mistaken as being nothing but commercial filler and in a sense somewhat cliched. Some very successful photographers will shoot portraits in this style. Wedding photographers often do as well. Sometimes shooting in a cliched style pays the bills I guess.
    For instance the original ethnically vague female model that adorned the first iteration of Obama's Healthcare.com website and was later removed comes to mind. We all knew instantly that it was stock photography. It has that look but I wish I knew or could deconstruct the image to help me understand what tells me this.
     
  55. I've thought a little about the photos that come with frames too . . . they are sort of cliched masterpieces that induce customers to buy the frames . . . only to replace them with pictures that are much less perfect, but have personal value.
     
  56. "I" actively avoid shooting what I feel are clichés. I have a DO NOT SHOOT list that includes the homeless and people using...."
    I shoot anything providing it has something to say...what is it telling me?
    Handcuffs are restrictive.
     
  57. They put them on prisoners.
     
  58. On cliches I always have one link for starters:
    Amadues Leitner http://www.amadeusleitner.com/
    I have no problems with people shooting cliches, so long as they do not call it "fine art". When I see a gallery of many images and after first photo nothing changes, I can't bring myself to being nice in my comments.
    I completely agree with gear being the focus and not the ability to see what's before us.
    Unfortunately, with millions of "photographers" out there, most of whom rely on developing their technique through camera ads, photo magazines, and garbage books produced in endless numbers, it is no wonder photography of today is a far cry form what it once was. Perhaps there should be a new name for this medium, just so it is clearly differentiated from the "other" photography.
    It seems the more bells greedy manufacturers put into cameras, the more we want. It's an endless game that has really no purpose, except for setting the ever new standards of who is ahead in offerings (and of course to make us "upgrade", since the new has got to make our photography better). What suffers in the process is photography itself, and those who wished to be unique, but due to the overwhelming publishing of "cliches" they find themselves struggling to see through it.
     
  59. The pic of the old nude man is an example of one's total insensitivity to viewers. It is disgusting and makes me wonder how a thread on cliche photography wound up getting this ugly pic in the mix. As one suggested there is no excuse for this and I don't see how even a link would fix this as it has no relevance to this discussion.
     
  60. "The pic of the old nude man is an example of one's total insensitivity to viewers. It is disgusting and makes me wonder how a thread on cliche photography wound up getting this ugly pic in the mix".
    Well, it is not cliché.
    Why would a Photograph of a nude middle age man be so disgusting? he is a member of humanity. Some nude young girl would no doubt tickle your middle/old age fantasy!
    But is nude Photography just about about satisfying some old blokes fantasy or about going into the unseen places.
    Fred G explores these areas in a sensitive creative way.
    Open your mind.
     
  61. I don't think being clichéd is boring, unimaginative or bad. As far as photography is concerned, I believe in reaching to the core of the piece of art an artist captures. Like it happened with you so you don't know how the final result will be no matter how uniquely you try to capture the essence of the scene.
     

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