Disclaimer: Since you never care much about what I write in this blog, I invite you to continue this way. My photos are mostly as full of cliches as yours, so let’s get out together without our cameras, a few excellent photo books under the arm and let’s drink ourself up to oblivion (but don’t spill your drink over the pages of my books or you will reach oblivion much quicker than me!)
So let’s go! 10 things you should just abandon:
1. The random flying hip nude in the forest:
There was not a single day in the last 5 years, without a “random flying hip nude in the forest” appearing under a banner “new incredibly mesmerizing original emerging talent”.
Ok we got it, it’s not funny anymore! Some do it very well, sometimes with subtle and interesting variations… But watching such series feels like being invited for a holiday film projection party in the 90’s after your neighbor came back from Luxor. After 10 pics you are done with it… You know what I mean?
2. The “I am young and even when I don’t do s***t, it looks awesome”:
Well, stop it! First because it makes ME feel terribly old (and I’m only 31!). Second because this moustache makes you look ugly. You look like you are a Californian surfer except that there is no sea here, nor California. Let those people do their business and start taking care of yours!
I mean serious here, this iconography might look cool because life on those pics look effortless, hair in the wind, awesome bikini girls laying on the bed, removing their clothes for no reason and all… FREEDOM!
You can still have a look at Larry Clark incredible career… All good for the mind.
But does it have anything to do with you?
Where you live, the wind is cold, any stylish divergence will lead you up to jail (or at least judgemental look from mr everyone) and your friends look crap. Well good news: it doesn’t matter! Be creative your own way, picture genuinely what surrounds you in a honest manner. No need to photograph that girl in a “Cali” style to prove us that you are young, in love but not too much… and cool.
WHY?!? I recently saw a YouTube video describing the vast majority of HDR pictures seen online as a “fountain of Skittles popping out of the ass of an elephant”. The technique was meant to reveal subtle details in highlights and shadows, not to rape your photograph of an anyway boring subject with a Panzer! Just DON’T!
4. The mermaid:
Is there an obsessive tendency in the photog world for photographing mermaids? I don’t mind mermaids really, mermaids might actually be hot if I think about it… In a way… Without the fishy thingy… We’ll forget about it and get back to our sheep!
Why no siren? Because in 99.9999% of the cases you make that poor pretty girl look like a TUNA in the river Mosel 😮
Somehow that sub genre just does not work at all if it isn’t flawless. Model, post-prod and setting must be perfect or the whole thing looks like crap. You still want to do it? Take this piece of advice: be unmerciful with yourself if you still want to do it. A Mermaid shooting deserves full commitment for location, model, styling and all. It. Does not bear mediocrity that would look unbelievably cheap. Here is what it potentially could look like if you do so:
model: lexi boling (ford)
photographer: laurie bartley (managementartists)
stylist: felipe mendes
hair: romina manenti (see)
make-up: ayami nishimura
5. Your geographical g-spot shooting:
For every city it’s photo landmark. You recognise it by googling the name of your town.
I remember a friend attending a photo course in Magdeburg (Germany), photographically famous for its factory ruins. First lesson, the teacher warns everyone: “I swear I kill the next student coming to me with an essay about this bloody factory!”.
In my area, next to Luxembourg, most of the photographers rush to the ultramodern “philarmony” to picture a model breathtakingly looking at the sky like she herself is rushing to long missing oxygen… I’m not saying all those are bad but com’on’! Is this truly the only location available any near around?? DO A TINY EFFORT PLEASE!
Another water related subject… Ophelia is slowly abandoning life in the water, dies, go over it!
There are billlllions of those all over any online photo platform and you think you are the first one coming up with the idea? Your model might get seriously cold and the chance for the result to be nearly as good as the pre-raphaelite landmark is next to zero. And why Ophelia? Same applies for the girl with the pearl earring. What a weird idea to copy a painting masterpiece that reached such cultural height, precisely because it’s a painting. Once more: Ophelia is dead, go over it.
It is however not completely hopeless:
Gregory Crewdson – Ophelia from the excellent “twilight” series
Alessandra Sanguinetti – “Guile and Belinda and the enigmatic meaning of their dreams”
7. The “Helsinki school is so OMG” school:
So yes Helsinki school was so OMG. Can we move on now? Let me briefly explain: This movement brought us a handful of amazingly talented people. Their common point? Hard to explain (a picture is worth a thousand words they say, so try to imagine a whole school of photos…). Something delicate yet deep, uncanny and somehow romantic at the same time. All highlighted photographers being very different from one another tho. In photography, the term school is associated with Dusseldorf whose statement was loud and clear; here is nothing like that with Helsinki.
The sublime work of Anni Leppala from the Helsinki School
The result? 3 billions girls in vintage dresses looking lost while making love to trees in the dark forest. Is this really all you retained from your northern heroes? This is enough!
Same applies to girls in vintage dresses looking lost in an abandoned house playing with vintage toys; or girls in vintage dresses looking lost half hidden in a red berries bush.
P.s. Danger! A mutating trend currently tries to mix sub genres to create Flying nude hipsters girls looking lost after playing vintage toys in an abandoned house filled up with plants… Don’t let this be happening!
8. The homeless:
Taken with a tele lense, black and white, with crap weather, heavy sharpening, high contrast and high vigneting? No! Getting a close up would be any better? No! Have you got creative energy to spend? Spend it helping them the real way. This practice doesn’t raise awareness, it doesn’t remind to anyone that they are humans like you and me (don’t laugh, I heard that one before). If you still want to do so, then engage them properly, long term, and you d better have really intelligent and creative ideas than just portraits. All else is a populist attempt to flatter your own portfolio by adding a “social” category to it. No go!
Kitra Cahana can however inspire us with her Rainbow festival series.
9. Photos of someone else’s good work, claiming it’s your good work:
A little while ago, I came across an artist photographer homepage with a picture of an awesome window shop arrangement of hats. Great composition, offered to the street wanderer by the hat seller. The photo was black and white and all the hats were carefully arranged. A very balanced composition. But wait… Whose work was this? Ok I get it: the shop keeper frames it, sweat his arse off to present something nice and you just steal it by tripoding your camera and pressing the shutter? It sounds like plagiarism to me, doesn’t it sound like plagiarism to you?
If you do so, please at least quote the name of the shop (which the photog didn’t do). You can of course sublime it all using the photographic medium, but be kind with the person who did the hard work for you. This also applies to live performance photography, but now you know what I mean.
10. Projects justified through psychobabbling 10 pages of artistic statements:
Your project is nice, why would you ruin it with an undecipherable artistic statement? Sorry but meaningful ones are rather the exceptions and are mostly written by people who really know what they are talking about… I know you have to provide your teacher, gallerists or audience with one so they can wrap their cup of champagne in it to keep it expensive… How often have you returned to your usual business after reading one of them? Keep it simple and meaningful.
Conclusion: don’t take all this too seriously. As long as you are having fun, this should just be ok 😉 I’m not targeting anyone, just having a bit of fun!
With love for all your good work,