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Four Photography Cliches That Need To Die

Instagram is just a set of image filters and after a while they all start to look the same - by Martin Svetlik

Photography is an artistic business and like any business rooted in the arts there are going to be trends and fads. It’s smart business to keep up with those trends, because while you and I might consider a trend somewhat lame, there is such a thing as being dead right. If you’re losing bookings because you don’t have a photo booth at the wedding reception, pull some of your old kit together and make or rent one. If it means getting a booking, hold your nose and do it even if that means buying a giant tea cup for baby pictures. That’s business, not art.

When it comes to art there are some trends that I desperately wish would die and I hope you can avoid.


I know, some of you are going to point to statistics that the iPhone 4S is the most popular point-and-shoot camera on the market and that Instagram is really cool, yada, yada, yada. I get it. But what is Instagram really? It’s a set of automated image effects linked to a photo sharing service that works from your phone. That’s it.

My problem with Instagram is, after a while, all the pictures start to look the same. You’ll have much better options for image manipulation with even the most basic photo editing program and you’ll be able to treat each picture like a unique work of art instead of something you jam through a pre-packaged filter.


Like with Instagram, I’m not saying HDR is not a very cool effect that, used in the proper circumstance, can make for a very pleasing image. I’m saying it’s overused, including many scenes that would be just as good if they were lighted and exposed properly in the first place and then detailed in post-processing.

Sepia Toning

Thankfully this one is dying on its own, possibly a victim of Instragram (oh, snap). I’m still seeing too many in wedding albums and even one photographer who sepia toned every photograph from one wedding.

Photographs that are imaginatively framed and properly exposed just don’t need a retro filter designed to make them appear to have been shot in the 1800’s. It’s okay for your photography to be part of the modern world.

Bleach Bypass

Okay, I’m just as guilty on this one as anyone else. Bleach bypass is one of my favorite filters, but because it’s now a stock effect on virtually every high end photo manipulation program, it’s getting out of hand.

Really all it does is sharpen the blacks and blast the contrast, you can achieve a more subtle but similar effect with the contrast and exposure controls.

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