Photography has fashion trends, just like any other creative industry. Some enterprising soul will be playing around and come up with a new look that catches on, and before long, the world is awash in copycat photos. Some of these techniques will continue on long after the novelty has worn off and become almost a visual cliché.
Sometimes that’s okay. It’s good to be aware of the over-done photography trends—even try a couple shots of your own just to see how it works for you. Do be cautious not to let them turn into a staple of your portfolio, though. If you want to stand out as a photographer, you have to develop your own unique style.
Here are some techniques to try but be careful including in your portfolio.
Selecting one element in a photograph to leave colored and gray scale the rest of the picture. This is a post-processing technique that works sometimes but tops the list of overdone visual tricks.
Instead, try a variation of this technique that’s a little less cliché. Isolate one color instead of one colored object. A picture where the greens stay vibrant and everything else is gray scaled. It’s a lot harder to do but can yield some very interesting results.
The Dutch Angle
Also called the Batman Angle or Dutch Tilt, this is when you hold your camera at angles between portrait and landscape in order to get more of a subject in the frame. Sometimes it works if you’re trying to challenge visual perceptions of your viewers; more often it creates a general sense of unease that’s overall unflattering.
Change lenses, shift your perspective, try a lot of things before employing this technique, which was used extensively in the old Batman TV show (hence the name). It’s old, it’s over-used, and there are usually better options.
The height of vanity combined with a healthy dose of paranoia. In these days of metadata, digital watermarks and search engines like TinEye, keeping track of image use on the Internet, it’s not all that difficult.
You don’t need to plaster your images with obscene watermarks in an attempt to get your name out. It detracts from the picture and makes you look insecure and loutish.
High Dynamic Range photography is an interesting technique, but sometimes the pictures come out looking over-saturated. It’s also one of those techniques that’s been done to death. Yes, absolutely learn how it’s done. It’s a good study in controlling contrast and color depth, but don’t necessarily rely on it as a staple.
If you want to be a freak about anything color related, be a freak about flesh tones. For natural looking portraits nothing beats quality natural skin tones.
Nothing screams “amateur hour” quite like heavy vignetting, whether it’s a genuine artifact or done in post processing (an even greater sin).
Crop tighter or buy a frame. Good photography doesn’t need this type of trick to get people to focus on the subject.
Writing on Pictures
This is another distracting amateur move that not only adds little to a photograph, it robs the viewer of their ability to interpret the meaning for themselves. Instead of encouraging people to think, you’re telling them what to think.
Quality photography stands on its own and doesn’t need any help eliciting emotion from the viewer. Avoid the temptation to grab them by the nose and drag them where you want them to go.
About the Author:
Peter Timko writes for Proud Photography, an online photography school.
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