Avoiding Tropes and Being Original in Photography

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Photography is full of tropes and established looks, and that’s fine; after all, they’ve become mainstays at least partially because they’re solid, effective styles. Nonetheless, if we never work outside those common styles, we’re losing out on a lot of creativity.

Coming to you from Jamie Windsor, this great video essay talks about the issue of falling into tropes and clichés in photography and why it’s so important to avoid that. And while Windsor directs his attention toward wedding photography, the discussion is really applicable to just about any genre. As he mentions, photography is a business, and clients have certain expectations and shots they desire to see (something that’s particularly prominent in the wedding world), but if that’s all you shoot for, you divorce yourself from the humanity of the event a bit in that you’re fulfilling formulaic expectations instead of capturing moments. Nonetheless, those two methods of shooting aren’t mutually exclusive, and the best photographers are adept at creating memorable images both ways. It’s definitely worth keeping in mind what you’re trying to capture as a photographer and the purpose of the final images you create; sometimes, moments trump technical perfection and poses.