Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Cliche Blogger "Photography" Tips That Need to STOP!

If you didn't already know, I'm a photographer and have been as an amateur for nearly 7 years, semi-professional for the past 3, and have been published on some websites, blogs and in magazines. Another thing you may not know about my photography is that I use film, and always have done, so I learnt with film. No digital shortcuts, I learnt fully manual - and I mean fully, external light meter and the lot,  not the digital excuse for manual! In other words: I'm very confident finding my way around a camera!  More and more people are taking up photography, especially as popularity for blogging has boomed. I love that more people love creating images, but it also means you're being bombarded with "tips" that are well, to be frank, nonsense: technically incorrect and cliche. Shall we have a look at my favourites? 

Perfect exposure = perfect photo
Actually, technical inaccuracies can be very successful. They can influence the mood and atmosphere of images. Plus, the thing with DSLRs and, moreover, an abundance of people using them on auto, means the internet is swarmed with perfectly exposed, 100% technically accurate images. I think these are sterile, have no individuality, limited creativity, no personality or signature 'style'. I found establishing a personal style to my images really helped make my photographs stand out in the online world. I get messages all the time saying people saw an image floating around on the internet and just knew it was mine from the style! So, to summarise: prioritise individuality over achieving that 100% technically accurate image. 


Wide Aperture (most commonly phrased as "blurred background")
Not necessarily is it the case that wide aperture = instantly good photograph. There are some occasions where you want more in focus - the 'bigger picture' if you will - and it can lead to unwanted over exposure if not used correctly. 

If you're shooting outside, shoot in shade 
Well...yes... if you want a sterile, relatively unimaginative image. Don't get me wrong, yes I agree to some extent: shade is best in very bright weather conditions. But photography literally translates to "writing with light", so why don't you do exactly that? I feel like this 'tip' is very restrictive, what about creating silhouettes, playful sun glares, or using light at different angles? And what about when you're shooting outside and the light is soft? According to this tip - that I've seen multiple times - I should still shoot in the shade as I'm outside. 
She literally has a light shining on her... not exactly shade!*

Wait until the "Golden Hour" (sunset) 
Of course this lighting is gorgeous! But again ... a bit restrictive, isn't it? There are so many ways to play with light and nature has given you a lot of conditions to play with. I find that a really good time to take photographs is just after it's rained; the air is 'cleaned' by the rain, so you don't get any dust flecks in the air and you'll find your pictures are clearer (perhaps also demonstrated in the example image above!). 

Take photos on sunny days 
Doesn't this sort of contradict the two 'tips' above in the first place? Of course, unless you're aiming for a certain mood, you probably won't want gloomy, overcast weather conditions .. but bright sunny days can create harsh shadows, unwanted glare, models squinting, too many highlights, can wash out skin tones ... I prefer to go for a 'clear' day, subtle sunlight, soft shadows. Soft shadows are actually fun to play with!
Don't use flash 
Personally, I don't like to use flash. But I think to give this piece of advise is a bit mean. It's personal preference! I don't like using flash but I appreciate there's plenty of ways to do so, and do so successfully. There are literally so many different ways of using a flash, diffused flash, bounce, off side flash, multiple flashes, different size flashes, flash filters ... is it really fair that people are publishing advice saying not to use flash, when it's obvious that, in the majority of cases, what they consider flash is the iddy-biddy attached-to-camera pop up flash? No.

A white background
If the blogging world is anything to go by, apparently a white background is the answer to everything.   Again, this is just another thing that is going to make you not stand out. I like white backgrounds for blog posts, admittedly; I swatch a lot of products so it's the easiest way for me to photograph the colour true to life. I also like them for headers to keep my homepage neutral. I do like to mix it up now and again though, especially on Instagram. 

Always edit your photos...
I really don't think this is necessary. Of course I edit my photographs but very minor adjustments and there is always at least 1 or 2 per set that I am 100% happy with as they are. Personally, I think if you rely too heavily on post production, your progress in developing skills in the actual creative and production process is hindered. What's that phrase? "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear"?; in other words, you can't make a bad picture good. You need to create a good image in-camera, and edit if necessary to make it really good.

...and always brighten the shit out of them 
I do brighten my blog images, the headers particularly, to keep my homepage as neutral as possible. But brightening every image, across all your photo-uploading platforms (IG/Twitter)? No... all these washed out images are doing my head in. Where's your individuality? Mood? 


Holding the camera
Okay, this isn't a 'tip' I've seen anywhere but in some demonstrative images, the 'photographer' has been holding the camera embarrassingly wrong! Hands clamped to either side of the camera...you should have one hand the side with the shutter, and the other under the lens to support it. This will dramatically reduce potential camera shake. Ironically enough, in the post I have in mind where the 'photographer' in question is holding the camera wrong, they then gave another tip on 'keeping still to reduce blurriness' ... 

And the best thing of all? 
All these 'tips', including mine, are absolute nonsense. They're made to be broken. Photography is an art, create the images you want. It goes back to where I say "prioritise individuality over achieving that 100% technically accurate image". That, at least in my opinion, is the most important thing when it comes to imagery. 

If you've ever written these tips, or followed them, I hope I haven't offended you! This was meant to be light hearted. I also hope this hasn't come across as arrogant in any way, I'm not claiming to be some photographer-extraordinaire; but from someone who's studied photography, has creative and professional experience, these blogging photography cliche's are amusing.  I do think it's completely understandable that your average blogger finds these kinds of tips helpful, but who doesn't like to stand out? Photography gives you a lot of room to be creative, and it's a wonderful hobby to have, with or without - or for or not for - a blog. 

If you're interested in taking photography up as a hobby, I strongly recommend learning with film. It teaches you a much more hands on approach, and you really get to understand what the settings mean, not just what certain buttons do. Would anybody be interested in a film photography beginners guide, or any other photography-related posts? There's a poll running in the right sidebar so you can let me know. Comment any other photography-related posts you might like to read!

Millie 
You can also find me on Bloglovin'Twitter & Instagram.


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7 comments

  1. Great post! It looks like you really know what you're talking about, but yet you're not saying that's the ONLY way to do something so I loved that. It's important that you're happy with the photo and that's all :)

    I have 'more original' photos in life, but I'll definitely try to change my game for the blog. More creativity and personality! And more me!

    xo Honey
    honeysroyaltybeauty.blogspot.com

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  2. This was a great post to read! I agree with all the cliche tips you mentioned. It's what majority of the images on the internet are and I do it too a lot of the times but I also like to work around the image that I've just shot and not just keep a fixed list of settings and filters. Sometimes a bit of mix and match looks pretty good as well x

    www.wildfirecharm.com

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  3. Love this post! I'm a photographer too so I found this post extremely truthful, keep it up! ♥ (:

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    1. So you definitely understand what I mean! x

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  4. I love this, I'm still learning these things :)

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  5. What a wonderful post. This is something that so many bloggers - myself included - need to read. It's almost freeing to know that the photography cliches in the blog world are really just that - cliches!

    Emma | www.creativexplorations.com

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  6. Nice little antidote, I liked it :)

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