Potentially Overused Photography Styles

Search for photography techniques on the internet and you’ll be flooded with countless articles and tutorials. The sad part, however, is that most of the articles and videos have very similar content. Beginner photographers are highly likely to embrace a similar set of ideas, and then keep using them. In this video, photographer James Popsys discusses five of the most overused photography techniques:

1. Long Exposures of Water

A good photograph has the ability to draw you in and make you feel as if you’re a part of the photo. But when it comes to long exposure photograph, your brain subconsciously reminds you that it’s not real.

long exposure of water

If you pay attention to how water flows, you’ll notice ripples, waves, and erratic behavior. Such characteristics of flowing water can play a huge role in the story. But as soon as you get out your 10 stop ND filter and blur the water, all of that is gone.

2. Panoramas

“Too often people use panoramas because they can’t decide what their subject is.”

Using a panorama when you cannot include multiple interesting subjects in one frame is definitely not the right approach. Well-taken photos are usually composed of few elements. The viewers instantly know where to look, and the message gets delivered effectively. But when you have a panorama with subjects scattered left and right, the viewers become distracted and can lose interest in the photo. One option is to isolate the interesting scene and take an individual picture.

3. Foreground Interest

Having a foreground, middle-ground, and background in an image does wonders when done correctly. But, you don’t have to incorporate them into every one of your images. Not having a foreground element should not be a reason for not taking a photo. Concentrate on the story you want to capture and how you want to emphasize the subject. If the foreground element doesn’t work, it will end up just being a distraction.

landscape image with foreground element

“Adding a foreground element can dilute your image and it can reduce the impact of your subject.”

4. Golden Hour

There are just too many photographers who wait for the golden hour to take any photos. And almost every photography article or video tells you why it’s the best time to take photos. Yes, it is, but it doesn’t work for every type of photo. The light can be overpowering and can draw attention to itself more. This diverts the viewers’ attention from the location and the subject, which defeats the purpose. For instance, if you take a photo of a mountain during the golden hour, people will appreciate how the mountain has a golden tint to it and move on. But what about the landscape?

“When you have ‘epic’ light, sometimes the light steals the show.”

And if you decide to take photos only during the golden hour, all of your photos will start looking the same. More importantly, the light becomes your subject and not the different locations you visit. Be open to photographing at any time of the day. Try photographing during the blue hour. If you want to create moody images, take photos in harsh sunlight.

5. Sky Replacements

“Why not go the whole hog? If you’re taking photos in Scotland of Glencoe, why not replace that with the Himalayas if you’re going to replace the sky? I don’t really get it.”

If you really feel the need to replace the sky, at least tell others about it. And put in a genuine effort to make it appear seamless. If it’s obvious that you replaced the sky, then you’re better off not doing it.

Do you feel that a certain photography technique is used too often? Let us know in the comments.

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4 responses to “Potentially Overused Photography Styles”

  1. Thanks for sharing the concept. It needs coverage.
    Why are humans so addicted to copying? Personally I hate
    cliches, and all of the techniques above, with the possible
    exception of “Foreground Interest,” lead to them. Would you
    walk into a party and think you were going to interest anybody
    by reading a script written by someone else? No. Be yourself.
    Shoot what interests you. Instagram likes have nothing to do
    with authenticity, so why are you copying?

  2. ernaldo says:

    There is also over complaining about what others do. Don’t like a particular style, don’t look.

  3. Walt says:

    All of the ideas purportedly overused are ones promoted here as ways to improve your photography. Way to confuse people.

  4. Bill Roth says:

    I totally agree with you on the long exposure with water. I think it is being way over done. It is ok if you want to make a nice calming photo. However, for the most part, when I take a photo of water, I want it to convey to the viewer what I have seen. The blurred water is not natural. I would like people to say, oh, where did you take that? I would like to maybe go there and see it for myself.

    I have the same opinion about HDR. HDR is ok as long as it isn’t over done. I have seen a lot that is over done. making the photo look unnatural (just like blurred water).

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