Top 15 Photography Clichés Everyone Hates

Top 15 Photography Clichés Everyone Hates

Any photographer who wants their work to stand out has to offer something unique to the viewer. The following list contains ideas, poses and editing techniques that probably aren't too original and should be avoided. If I had known this when I started photography, I probably would have found a signature look sooner.

Before you read please take note that photographers knocking other photographers is not ok and not the intended purpose of this article. This is why I dug through my own photos that I took within the first 6 months I owned a camera. With that being said, everyone has to start somewhere and I am thankful for the way my photography journey panned out.


1. White vignette. This was meant to fix lens vignette issues, not some cool effect.

2. Selective coloring and that dizzy angle is SO cool... said no one ever.

3. Photographers with profile pictures taken in a mirror using a DSLR is probably the least professional thing you can do.

4. HDR is cool... until you go overboard.

5. Forming heart with hands. It's cheesy. Just stop.

6. Baby froggy pose. (No example for this sorry. If you have one feel free to share yours in the comments)

7. Railroad tracks may provide nice leading lines, but it's cliché.

8. Smooth skin using blur tools. Far too many people never see the light when it comes to this point. Skin texture has to be retained. If the creators of photoshop knew people would do this they probably would never have invented the blur options under the filter menu. 

9. Watermarks.  A photograph needs a watermark like a toilet seat needs spikes.

10. The jumping wedding party shot! (No example for this sorry. If you have one feel free to share yours in the comments)

11. Jumping pictures period.

12.  Holding a frame. (No example for this sorry. If you have one feel free to share yours in the comments)

13. Adding a frame.

14. Here's a 3 in 1. People on their phone, one foot up on wall pose and boring bricks.

15. Doing a photo shoot of your lens caps.


In case you were wondering, I have since kind of changed my style. Feel free to follow me on 500px, Facebook or Instagram!

What else is missing in the article? Feel free to share down below. 

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Eric Alter's picture

Sunset photos of people with the sky in the background and painfully obvious flash fill illuminating the subject. Every photographer does it to prove than they can master the skill of balancing ambient and flash, but it's been done to death!

Eric Duminil's picture

Whatever. It looks good (almost) every time.
And for people who can't afford big lights, it's the only time of day where you can balance sunlight and flash.

Alex None's picture

Uh, maybe they aren't doing it to 'prove' they can balance flash and ambient. Maybe they are doing it... to take a portrait with the sky in the background.

Neo Racer's picture

You can't do it because someone has already done it!!!!! And then..we're all screwed lol

Savi You's picture

I'm curious how you would expose for the sunset w/o a flash?

Bill Irwin's picture

Yet customers absolutely love it when I do this for my Beach Family Portrait customers.

Mo Pla's picture

The last one got me :D
Always shoot the lens cap of a new lens (with that lens - obviously) !!!

2 days later drop that cap and it rolls into a river (actually happened to me twice). So you can hang that "test" picture on a wall with a black band on the edge :P

Austin Rogers's picture

Wow dude. These like actually hurt to look at. ;)

Good read!

Henry Shutter's picture

That lens cap shot is almost as lame as your old 'Minolta on a battered Pelican case' shot. Nice work.

steven spaulding's picture

hi i'm steven,

and i've come to admit that i've done a few of these :S

this is the photographers anonymous support group right lol.

Adam Bender's picture

Most of those are unfortunate rights of passage for amateurs until we realize how brutally horrible they are! Funny list to go through since I've done most of them at one time or another. It's a great feeling though, when you've realized that you no longer do those things. In a sense there is a feeling of 'making it' from a creative standpoint.

Brad Delaney's picture

Just as well we love your work now ! Having said that, who doesn't cringe when they look back at some of their old work and i must say they are a few of these cliches lying around ! Good on you for sharing !

Ralph Hightower's picture

4. HDR. I don't mind HDR if it is subtle. But when one goes overboard, it looks like a freak of nature!
7. Railroad tracks. That's just damned dangerous and trespassing unless the track is abandoned and turned over to public use.

Nathan Hamler's picture

I love how everyone is always quick to point out the "danger" of shooting on railroad tracks? When was the last time you were near a railroad track and couldn't see/hear/feel a train coming from a LONG way off? We're not in europe hanging out on bullet train tracks...but yes, it's

Tony Carter's picture

yeah, you would think it would be obvious (and I agree with you), but there were a handful of photogs in the U.S. this year alone that were killed messing around on train tracks. Google it. (they unfortunately made the news)

Jayson Carey's picture

Slates for Sarah. You might want to look that up.

Bill Irwin's picture

"When was the last time you were near a railroad track and couldn't see/hear/feel a train coming from a LONG way off? "

I'm sure the film crew was thinking the same thing when they started shooting on the railroad tracks. Unfortunately for them, one of the members of their crew was killed because they unfortunately didn't hear the train far enough away to give them time to clear the tracks.

I would never take a client who wants to shoot on the railroad tracks. I would give them alternative places to shoot or if they must do this, find someone else.

ri sw's picture

Photographers and their subjects get killed on train tracks every single year. Because of the way the physics of sound works, in many cases you won't hear the train until you're halfway to heaven.

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

i am surprised you guys left out "half naked" body shots hoping for a quick access to gain fame/followers.

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

its enough to know you considered it. Because its getting out of control. Your work is genuine Dani.

David Vaughn's picture

I wouldn't even classify some of what he's talking about as nudes. I know several people who like to take tactless photos of pretty women because

1. Pretty woman in various stages of semi-nudity (including bathing suits, sweet jesus the bathing suit shots)
2. Camera
3. ?????

Chilehead Craig's picture

Especially when it's used to advertise for photography workshops.....

cece cuenat's picture

So funny. I always figured those shots were taken by guys that didn't get to see half naked bodies, any other way.

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