Top 10 Photography Clichés

With DSLR cameras becoming cheaper each day and the green square turning everyone into a professional photographer, there has been an influx of awful photos and edits showing up on the Internet under the pro label. Here is my top ten list of photography clichés that I would like to see disappear forever.

Selective desaturation

Full Stop on the Road to Paradise

Sure, everyone has done it. I can not count the number of times people have shown me this effect and said, “Don’t you think this is cool?” I feel as though if my composition isn’t doing enough on it’s own to point out what the main subject of my photograph is, then the composition, DOF, or even pressing the shutter entirely should be re-questioned.


The New Austin

Let me rephrase that. Overdone HDR. I believe that HDR has a place in photography. A very small place over in the corner out of everyone’s field of view. Exposure blending is a more natural way to achieve the complete tonal range of a photograph with a more realistic and natural feel.

Today, cameras are being made with this technology built in. I have yet to see the final product of one of these new cameras, but I hope they don’t become too popular with the consumer market if the results are anything that seems to come straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

Naming photos

Solace In The Mysticism.
Stoic Dignity.
A Glimpse Beyond Tomorrow.

These are just a few photographs that I have seen recently that all have names attached to them. Now, take a minute to tell me what these photos are about? No idea? Of course not. You won’t know until you see the photo. A photo with a title frames a mood for the image in my head prior to looking at it. I might take something entirely different away from a photograph than what the artist had in mind, and that is one of my favorite things about photography.


Day 70/365- Hot Metal Bridge classic

Simply put, if you are this worried about people stealing your work, your work does not belong on the Internet. Use a portfolio book or another medium to display your work Watermarks that are across the middle of the image take away all of the emotion that I take away from viewing a photo. Watermarks at the bottom of the image are easily cropped out. There’s really no way to win from using them. I also feel that it tells the person viewing your work that you don’t trust them up front. This is not a good way to begin a relationship with anyone.

National Park Vultures and Sheep

The Badgerazzi

America’s National Parks. Areas of serene beauty, sounds of nature, and 40 photographers blocking a 2 lane dirt road for miles with their 500mm zoom lenses trying to get a shot of a bear that’s half a mile away. I’m not sure this is the idea that Teddy Roosevelt had in mind when he helped expand the National Park system. Of course, they have every right to the land that every visitor has, but some common courtesy and respect for others goes a long way to keep these parks the way they’re meant to be seen.

Tilted Horizon

Coral Sun

I see this a lot in wedding photos and sometimes with landscapes. Perhaps it’s just my relentless attention to detail and the hours I spend making my horizons exactly 90 degrees, but these photos always feel to me as though everything is falling off the screen. If water is involved, this effect is intensified.

Fisheye lenses

mike 5=00

The cliché skateboarding photographer’s lens of choice. I often find it difficult to determine where the horizon ends and the ground begins. There are no right angles, instead the photo ends up with warped benches, rails, and stairs, and people with very long limbs and tiny heads.

Nice camera = Great photos

I guess ultimately I should take this statement as a compliment as I know the person that says it means well. It is, however, a bit frustrating to have a good photo put all on the shoulders of a good camera when I take the time to get every camera setting exactly as the scene requires.

Jumping Wedding


Why are we jumping? For joy? Are there snakes? Never have I thought of the uniting of two people in holy matrimony and jumping. Everyone always looks confused, out of place, and there’s always the one person that just can’t seem to time the jump just right.

Using Explosions in the Sky for Timelapse Videos

Sure, I love the band just as much as everyone else. They are, after all, from my home state of Texas, and have made some great songs to edit photos to. But when did their music become the soundtrack to showing clouds soar across cityscapes at sunset? Branch out. Use the Explosions in the Sky Pandora station if you must. There are tons of other great bands that make similar music that no one has ever heard.

  • I know this was written several months ago, just wanted to say: a lot of “worst photography cliches” posts I see are too broad (like “black and white images” or “children”). I think this list is perfect: it’s specific, but doesn’t just come across as attacking some specific photographer without naming him/her (a lot of photographers seem to like to do that…). I especially agree with your point about watermarking!! I find it insulting to go to a blog and be immediately greeted with something that communicates: “Don’t steal this. Or this. Or this.” Most of the time, the images I see watermarked are not anything anyone’s gonna steal anyway (like camera phone pictures, or a family photo where everyone is wearing a “Pulaski Family” sweater).

    I see a few other photo cliches this year with family photographers, and I wish they’d go away – like photos of the subjects standing in front of one of those factory delivery doors (why would you be hanging out there?). And pretty much all maternity photos I see are unimaginative.