25 Photography Cliches You Should Stop Doing Today

Selfies, weird borders, and crappy sunset shots. We’ve all rolled our eyes at these clichés, but what’s worse is that we’ve all been guilty of them at some time or another. In this video, Kai exposes the 25 worst photo clichés that you should avoid doing if you hope to grow as a photographer:

25 Photography Cliches to Avoid (or Else)

  1. Taking selfies. Please stop?
  2. Bokeh, bokeh, and more bokeh. Bokeh is great—in small doses.
  3. Signing your photos. In Kai’s words: “Who do you think you are? Picasso?”
  4. Adding cheesy filters. Just… no.
  5. Putting text on your photos. A good picture already paints a thousand words.
  6. Taking the same-old sunset photos. “Red sky, red sky, red sky, red sky, red sky…”
  7. Using obnoxious watermarks. It’s good to protect your work, but if no one can see your photo behind your large opaque branding, then what’s the point of posting it online?
  8. Adding borders. Don’t be a noob.
  9. Light painting names. Just forget it—the writing would look juvenile anyway.
  10. Creating B&W photos with selective colors. Good for poignant tales. Not so good for random flowers.
  11. Making B&W artistic nudes. A nude is a nude no matter the color space, people.
  12. Blurring waterfalls. If shot incorrectly, blurred waterfalls look like “a load of old ladies’ hairs.”
  13. Capturing boring landscape panoramas. 90 percent of landscape panoramas are probably just green grass at the bottom and blue sky at the top.
  14. Taking lots of cloud photos. Take photos of cool cloud formations, sure—but don’t make clouds and sunsets your entire portfolio!
  15. Inserting fake sun lens flare. Get your own sun flare!
  16. Overdoing HDR. HDR is best done tastefully or not at all.
  17. Changing better-suited color photos to B&W. Just… why?
  18. Using the zoom burst technique. Okay, you can try it ONCE—but never again.
  19. Creating dutch angle shots. You’ll have to work hard to set your dutch angle shots apart.
  20. Making “postcard” images of tourist attractions. You know those touristy shots that you’ve seen a million times? We don’t need another one floating around out there. Try something new!
  21. Photographing people who are less fortunate than you. Everyone photographs homeless people. Make your images unique or don’t make them at all.
  22. Taking “I’m a Photographer” selfies. Don’t you do it!
  23. Every. Single. Stock. Photo. Ever. Made. Perhaps not every stock photo, but certainly most!
  24. Devising optical illusions. You might think you’re clever, but…
  25. Photographing people with trollies. Apparently, Kai does this far too often.
selective color black and white b&w cliche photography photo kai digitalrevtv

You really need to be able to justify using selective color in a black and white. Even then, it’s probably still cheesy.

This article has kicked off quite a discussion here. Let us know what you think! Are all of these techniques cliché or do they become cliché when executed poorly? What is the worst cliché on the list?

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26 Comments

  1. Maya Gervais says:

    Hi,

    I loved you video on photo clichés. I think you forgot to add food pictures though.

    Have a nice day!

    Maya

  2. Pablo says:

    This guy is really annoying. Please stop publishing his videos. Thank you.

  3. JoshuaLancePhoto says:

    Next list: stop taking pictures of babies, pets, stars, women, anything indoors, parties – especially weddings, men, outdoor pics, and anything in daylight. More than half of these “cliches” have helped me make a living for years!!!! When people ask for, and pay for, certain shots, you give them what they want, within reason of course. A better video would be “How do do these shots correctly”.

    • emily says:

      agree

  4. KW says:

    This list is just lame. Why not just tell people to stop photograph??

  5. Vivek raut says:

    Photography is all about fun. Selfie is part of it. I feel there should be no limitation. At the end of the day, its all about light & timing.

  6. Show up what to do says:

    Give examples of photos that are different.

  7. Bobbyvit says:

    This is really dumb! At the end of this article you post all the cliches that you say not to do! And that kid is such a jerk! So obnoxious that you have to turn it off! Where the hell did you find that idiot.

  8. LCarter says:

    I am learning photography for my creative outlet – I haven’t tried all of these anyway but I’m just getting started. Understanding and learning the possibilities of a camera, and what it can create, is part of the learning curve and challenge. Chances are I will one day try to stop a waterfall – not so much for the waterfall’s sake, but maybe so I’m ready for other action shots I’m really interested in. I’m also not thinking about, or expecting, this guy’s approval. The pictures I have taken are personal and meaningful for me. They freeze a moment in time and create a memory for me. Overly judgemental in my opinion, but that’s me being judgemental of his sense of humor. To each his own.

  9. Tee Hall says:

    Please show some examples of this person’s (or anyone else’s) photos that don’t fit these cliches.The photos you provide in your daily featured photos article seem to contain all the undesirable cliches mentioned in this video…Is your priority to teach photography, or just to garner more web clicks in order to sell advertising?

  10. Rick Hawkins says:

    What a doltz! No camera technique, no brains, and nothing to offer. With the number of images taken daily, virtually everything is cliche to some extent. Even this idiot.

  11. Peggy Delisi says:

    Who is this jerk anyhow to say all those things are cliches? According to him, it doesn’t leave a lot to photograph!! If I want my name on my photo, so what!!??!!?? And if I want to put it on FB or any other place with my name on it (or watermark for that matter), so what???!!!??? Personally, I love some pictures of some of his so-called cliches and I DO them too. Some I don’t like and wouldn’t do anyhow, but if someone else wants to, that is their business. I like to take pictures that are beautiful and/or just interesting and I like to take pictures of things that I know what they are – whether it is a beautiful scenery, flower, bird or other animal or strange looking tree. If I snap a picture of a bird that looks like it is exercising or a horse on his 2 hind legs, all the better! I also agree with everything Rick Hawkins said!!

  12. Have Camera Will Shoot says:

    What a waste of time watching this video…… it’s OK to have an opinion but to claim these “cliches” as off limits smacks of egocentric behavior to the max. I say mind your own business!!!

    Next time do something worthwhile such as showing what makes a good sunset photo.

  13. klem39 says:

    OK Peggy do your “own thing” and join the thousands similar. But try to do them with a original twist that stands them out above the masses. That’s Maturity.
    BTW when photoing “poor” people treat the as people, ask and show the result, even send them a copy.

  14. robp says:

    got to say that this guy does the credibility of your website no good at all. what an idiot with nothing but drivel to say.

  15. justin says:

    Can anybody else smell the vinegar aroma coming off of this douche bag? Clichés they may be, but the 26th and most important one that wasn’t even mentioned was a pretentious douche bag photographer over sharing his distaste for things that are popular…

  16. Marius says:

    I enjoyed the video and the comments, why is everyone so serious. If you do not relate to it, ignore it. I agree with most of it and he confirmed many clichè’s that I was wondering about. Still is a personal thing, as long as you enjoy what you do.

  17. Tina Haydu says:

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, cliché or not.

  18. Dan Richards says:

    I agree with a lot of this. HDR is at best a over used technique that is not that interesting. I would rather use tone mapping than waste my time on HDR. Selective color can add a lot to an image, but there are many other there that are not even interesting. I would say use it wisely. Over half of the color shots can be better in B&W because color distracts the eyes to much.
    The amateur, have fun with these tools. The pro, use your better judgement.

    • Dan Richards says:

      And selfies, for the kids. Why? Are you that vain or so full of self-importance if you’re an adult?

  19. Adam says:

    Agreed with several others. Mocking people for the kind of work they do is purely destructive. There’s a place for most of these, and most of them can be done well. Not to mention that working through these kinds of techniques is really helpful to developing your skills and identifying your creative vision – your place in the world of photography. This guy’s attitude exemplifies much of what’s wrong with our public discourse. “I have an opinion, therefore everyone who doesn’t share it is a moron. Because I’m the greatest. Obviously.” Come on. He reduces every one of these “cliches” to it’s worst possible incarnation and acts like that is representative of the technique as a whole. He makes a few good points, but the overall tone is too condescending, and the rest of the video is too abrasive to be very useful.

  20. Peggy Delisi says:

    Well said Tina Haydu and Adam!!!

  21. Tess Sartin says:

    Please don’t publish anymore of this guys videos. What an elitest snob and annoying to listen to.
    Time I’ll never get back, what a waste.

  22. Welsh Dog says:

    I take photographs of things I like to take photographs of whether they’re cheesy, cliched or not. If people like them good, if they don’t… well *I* still do!

    It’s all down to personal taste and because of that it’s a damn good thing we’re all different!!

  23. Meiki67 says:

    There is a lot of truth in what you say and I don’t like that people mock you instead of trying to contributing a serious claim against your advices.

    I myself for example like to photograph fiery clouds, sunrises and sunsets and if the weather forcast announces appropriate conditions I make hundreds of kilometers in the night in order to catch the sun rising with my camera. But after the one-hundredth sunrise I start asking myself – do I REALLY need the 101th ?? And the spontaneous first answer is NO – I have already tons of sunrises in my your portfolio, enough – start photographing icebears or bees or cars. But than in a second more balanced thought I think – I love sunrises – why should I force myself to photograph things I do not love. And so I go back and take another sunrise and another and another – an believe my – they all are WOW and I still love it !

    Me reminded this whole topic what I learned many years ago – I think it was about Zen (but maybe something else from the Far East). In the beginning of the way for the disciple water is water and the sun is a sun and a tree is a tree. When he starts to learn and the Master explains him some realities behind the “reality” suddenly water is no more water and the sun is no more the sun and a tree is no more a tree. But after the disciple achieves “real” knowledge water becomes again water and the sun is again the sun and a tree is again a tree.

    So my conclusion :
    – Starters in the Kingdom of Photography : ignore what Rebecca says – enjoy and find your way
    – Learning Disciples : listen to her well – she says a lot of truth
    – Masters : well – they are *Masters* and – sorry – I’m in doubt if they need your advice

  24. Hannah says:

    Thank you!

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