Please Stop These Photo Trends!
I don't know about you, but...
I have felt this little rant coming on for a while and it came to a head when I was asked on Instagram who I felt inspired me. Now, I didn't really have a response to this because I enjoy the endless puzzle of the act itself, not because of any one person or a body of work. But this got me thinking, I don't know what does inspire me, but I DO know what I am tired of seeing and what turns me off to the point of unfollowing IG accounts.
Photographs are taken for a variety of reasons, be it an informative record, to showcase a product or place, as creative art or just a silly memento snap. All of the above is fine, and any photo you take is personal to you. However, my Instagram account seems to be awash with photo trends that seem to pop up out of nowhere and litter my feed with 100's of variations of the same image!
I'm all for creativity, and aware of that feeling of wanting to recreate something that inspired you, but it does seem somewhat relentless seeing endless versions of the exact same thing! I would share some examples, but I'm not looking to call people out on it as I don't think that would be fair. I also much doubt my Internet ramblings will really make much of a difference to the wider world of photography, but it's making me feel better, if only for as long as it takes to type this out.
This is what I am talking about :
The Wash Out
Typically, this is going to be a shot of a pretty, vintage looking building in washed-out pastel colors surrounded by flowers, maybe a bike with a wicker basket on the front and be tagged #prettylittlethings. This in itself isn't a bad thing, however, the treatment of it is usually more washed out, lacking contrast and the sky is almost always blown out.
These were quite cute at first, but as the trend gained traction with people trying to 'out pretty' each other it's become increasingly difficult to separate one shot from another. Now it's just bland. Time to move on.
Up in Smoke
Finding an edgy rain-drenched street, or dark alleyway, surrounding lights reflected on the wet surfaces whilst a model wearing black jeans and a black hoodie holds some sort of Mortal Kombat pose wearing an LED illuminated Vendetta style mask and holding a colored smoke grenade. Sound familiar? If not, you can't have an Instagram account. This is virtually every 3rd image in my feed!
Edgy? Most certainly, the first 2 or 3 were. Now they're just boring. Move on people.
The Edit Wizzard
The truth is, contrary to popular belief, in this day and age EVERYBODY loves a show-off. There's a large contingent of photographers who play up to the crowd creating manipulated shots with a real wow factor to show off their 'mad editing skilz'.
So there's an interesting scene, maybe a river running through the woods, or an interesting street with the sunset on the horizon, or something more obvious like a famous bridge, you know the type. Then in the lower 3rd of the frame is a mobile phone screen which has been edited so the main scene appears to be spilling out of the mobile phone and into view or variations on this type of extreme manipulation. Kind of like a double exposure on steroids.
Clever? Very. Technical and skillful editing? Yes. Common and overdone? Most definitely! Move on!
But, Like, This Filter Though!
Isn't modern technology wonderful? At the touch of a button, a 6-year-old can apply color models and processing to an image at a touch of a button without the need to understand all the complicated functions of a powerful image processing program.
Conservative use of filters to enhance an image's appearance is totally acceptable and can lift a flat mobile phone shot from something uninteresting to more interesting and attractive. However, the overuse of a filter, because everybody else is doing it, despite the obvious conflict with the photograph subject and colors in your image is not cool.
Oh, and sticker filters that make you look like a dog or whatever. Stop it, stop it now. Move on!
The - No One Will Notice...
This is a big one for me to the point I recently unfollowed an account on Instagram because it started to become very obvious that the images being posted, and that was attracting a lot of attention I might add, were not quite right. At first glance, I was quite impressed with the images, but I felt something was off and warranted a closer look.
This particular account was posting images that showed an attractive location processed in black and white and all had an attractively composed model in the shot. What's wrong with that? Well, nothing, BUT when taking a closer look I could see the model had been inserted into the image during post-processing, and badly. What really disappointed me was the amount of senseless praise the images were amounting for the shoddy work!
No, I don't have a problem with this technique especially (in fact I have carried out this practice myself) but it has to be done right. If you layer anything into a scene you need to ensure that the lighting and color treatment of the new object is suited to the rest of the frame; that it has a shadow opposite to the light source and the object sits comfortably in the space. What not to do is take an image like you cut it out of the newspaper and laid it on a picture of a bed in the Ikea catalog!
Please stop this people, you're better than that! Onwards!
The - Check Me Out!
I don't know for sure if this is the origin of this particular trend, but it's certainly when I noticed the explosion. A guy went viral with his series of images where he captured his girlfriend from behind, with a hand reaching back and taking his dragging him into beautiful locations. These are great shots and at the time I remember thinking they were original and well put together.
Fast forward to today, and I see far too many similar images where the hands of the photographer are in the shot. Likewise when the photographer (or a model) is sat precariously upon a roof edge with their feet hanging over into the shot. Was new and interesting at the time, but now it's way overdone now and it's boring!
(Do I even need to mention hot dog legs??)
Am I starting to sound like a grumpy old man?
The answer to that is most likely to be a resounding yes, but I do feel better for getting it off my chest.
I'm not looking to spoil the party for anyone, some of these 'techniques' might be your style, and if you have made that your thing then run with it. If you fancy giving it a go, go for it and challenge yourself, except for inserting models without regard for lighting and perspective, don't do that, ever. Or use sticker filters, stop that immediately. I guess what I am saying is don't keep producing the same old thing because your work that is riding the peak wave of popularity now will become stale when the social media lizard slithers onto the next naff thing.
Sure, my photography isn't groundbreaking, and yes my style is to slightly over exaggerate the reality a little in my processing, but I'd like to think that the variety in my shooting holds interest. I am very happy to stand corrected and encourage any and all feedback, so please feel free to call me out if you think I have committed any of the above sins!
Do you agree with my old man moans? Let me know in the comments!