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25 Photography Clichés to Avoid Like Fire

girl in sunflower field

There are many aspects to a good photography website. If you want to have your phone ringing, emails pinging, and clients clinging, you better make sure your website is thoughtfully designed, easy to use, social media friendly and has great content. In other words – it should totally follow all the guidelines in our step-by-step guide to creating a photography website. But even if your portfolio is stunning, and you ended up choosing the perfect layout, there’s still one element which has a critical impact on your potential clients’ decision. That’s right: your images!

Your photos may be produced in high-quality tech-wise, but what about their originality? With so many people sharing their pics online, some popular scenes become so cliché, it makes your eyes roll, and your cursor scroll.

Cliché: a phrase, idea or piece of art that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought. Also, translates from French as ‘photo’.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not judging anyone. Shooting a couple in the sunset or a newborn in a basket might be part of your daily work and monthly income. While these typical images might pass through your (social) grapevine and be seen by many, wouldn’t you agree that they are of questionable artistic value? If you, like us, feel like you’ve seen them hundreds of thousands of times before, then join us in letting some of that steam out. Here is a list of photography clichés you should avoid like fire – unless someone pays you for it, then you can decide whether you can handle the heat:

What: photo of yourself with a camera in mirror Why not: no need to hide, we know you’re a photographer.

What: railroad tracks Why not: the last train to mainstream city departed in the 90’s.

What: jumping pictures Why not: your portfolio just won’t take off with them.

Jumping people in a field.

What: sunsets Why not: the sun has long set on these types of photos.

What: rainbows Why not: OK, it’s a miracle. Now let’s move on.

What: light painting names with long exposure Why not: you don’t want your name associated with this.

Light painting of the word love.

What: making “postcard” images of tourist attractions. Why not: mankind will never produce enough terabytes to store these.

What: flowers Why not: we’ve suddenly become allergic to them.

What: pets Why not: see Flowers (above).

What: throwing long hair in water to create a splashing circle Why not: we prefer to stay dry, thank you.

Girl with long hair splashing water.

What: the Dutch tilt Why not: ‘cause our necks hurt.

What: posing with an empty picture frame Why not: there’s a reason that frame was empty.

What: people running through wheat fields Why not: our eyes feel like going gluten-free for a while

wheat fields

What: person in a sunflower field Why not: take that person home already.

What: graffiti Why not: let’s be honest, it’s someone else’s work of art.

What: making a heart shape with fingers Why not: there are so many other useful things you can do with your hands.

Heart shape with fingers

What: raindrops on a window Why not: just drop it.

What: bokeh Why not: ‘cause it’s so 2013, and you can’t bring the past back.

What: dogs with sunglasses Why not: remove sunglasses and see Pets.

Dog with sunglasses

What: text on photos Why not: words and pictures are like clichés and portfolios – better kept separate.

What: vintage-like filters Why not: ‘cause you don’t want your photos to look amateur-like.

What: selective color on b&w background Why not: once you go black (and white), you can never go back.

Red flower on black and white background.

What: reflections in sunglasses Why not: let’s reflect on that, shall we?

What: ballerina shoes Why not: give them back to her, she actually needs them.

What: footprints in the sand Why not: because you’d rather have your photos leave a footprint.

Can you think of any more clichés? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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