Home Forums Let’s Talk Photography Should I do a corny christmas shoot?

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  • #22435
    emf
    Member

    Hi guys,

    I have a slight dilema and would really appreciate other opinions on the matter.

    For the past few months I have been portfolio building, so approaching suitable people and offering free shoots etc. in exchange for me using the best ones as part of my portfolio. I have been happy with this arrangement and have been loving it. To get to the point where I get paid for it would be a dream come true! My plan is to keep doing freebies til maybe Jan, then introduce a much reduced interim price until I feel ready to start charging full whack. I feel I don’t have the consistency yet to ask for full payment.

    So I did a shoot for 3 month old twins and have arranged to do another one in a few weeks. The mum has now suggested we do a Christmas theme, i.e. they all where red or something. My gut reaction is I don’t like the idea. When I’m charging I’ll do whatever they want but I am really trying to avoid all the tacky cliche stuff. As well as getting the practise I need, the reason for doing free portfolio building shoots is so I can be selective about the style and subjects I shoot, themed stuff like this, isn’t really my thing.

    So am I being a massive snob, should I just do the shoot? Is there a place for this kind of thing or am I being picky? Would love opinions, what would you guys do?

     

     

    #22436
    emf
    Member

    wow, can’t believe I wrote ‘where’ instead of ‘wear’ – please ignore that.

    #22437

    Of coarse you should do it!  Just because you do it doesn’t mean you have to add it to your portfolio.

    Put some thought into it and get them something nice, they can put on, or in, Christmas cards.  You could go all the way and use a couple of cans of snow if you pay attention to the background — i.e. it has to look cold, no trees in full leaf.

    If results are inconsistent, practice, practice, practice!  Bless anyone willing to stand in front of your camera.

    #22439
    EyeDocPhotog
    Member

    It would appear this is a moot point since you said there was an agreement in place already to photograph the kids.

    This may be an opportunity to parade your creative skills – come back with a suggestion of a holiday theme that is not ‘cliche.’ I’m sure you can think of something!

    I believe one of the qualities of a good photographer is his / her ability to apply fashionable (timeless) ideas to a trendy situation. For example, my own high school graduation photos were done in the early 80’s when big hair was ‘in’ for girls and gigantic bow-ties for boys (in tuxedos). But our photos in my yearbook are STILL good today because the photographer had the skills to pose everyone properly so your eyes are not drawn to anywhere else but the faces.

    #22442
    emf
    Member

    thanks guys! Ok have said yes. I will post the results when done for critique so you all can tell me if it’s cliched or not. Many thanks 🙂

    #23091
    Dudley
    Member

    OP spaketh up and said, “When I’m charging I’ll do whatever they want but I am really trying to avoid all the tacky cliche stuff. ”

    Are then such a good photographer that you cannot put out an improved and superior ‘cliche’?   Avedon certainly wasn’t the first fashion photographer, nor the first to make use of high key.   The fact that you are doing ‘pro bono’ and such for practice says it all…you are NOT a journeyman photographer, and therefor need more experience.  When you can improve on a cliche, then ou might well make the statement I quoted.

    #23092
    emf
    Member

    My whole point is I’m not a great photographer. Not to charge at least and am fully acceptant of that fact. That is precisely why I am not charging. At the same time, while I’m in this position I want to take the chance to exercise artistic control. I may not be great at photography but for me it’s just another fine art medium and I’ve studied and practised fine art my whole adult life. I have ideas about the kind of photography I want to do and am trying hard to avoid cliches. I don’t want to take photos of whole families wearing the same colours, looking more like they work for Gap than a family. I don’t want to take photos of kids stuck in pumpkins on wrapped in Christmas lights or whatever.

    One of the main premises of this site is to deride ‘fauxtographers’ who churn out the same cliched rubbish. Yet you seem to think I can’t even make such a statement without going through the same process?  I have to cut my teeth on that kind of stuff before I can make a statement?

    You’re talking about Avedon but you’re confusing a cliche with a genre. They are not the same.

     

     

     

     

    #23099
    Dudley
    Member

    ..and he spaketh again thusly, “I may not be great at photography but for me it’s just another fine art medium and I’ve studied and practised fine art my whole adult life. I have ideas about the kind of photography I want to do…”

     

    Which is PRECISELY my point.  Do you honestly believe that if you haven’t the skills yet to do a so-called ‘cliche’ well that you can create something worthy of being called art by anyone other than yourself?  You can study and read about brain surgery for years, and unless you can handle the carving knife at Thanksgiving without creating turkey hash you will fail in the OR.

    As for your comment re: Avedon?  Different genre?  I have news dor you oh student of fine art, Avedon used a camera, artier-Bresson used a camera, Adams used a camera….and every single one of them had mastered its use before producing ‘art’. And I can assure you that if you were truly a student of ‘fine art’ you would find that even they made pictures of cliches.  Only because of their skilld and talents those cliches were truly art.  Now quit rationalizing, self aggrandizing, and get back to practicing with your camera…..or by a paint by numbers set, change all the numbers so it won’t be a cliche, and then offer it to MOMA.

    #23100

    Cliche:  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cliche?s=t

    Genre:  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/genre?s=t

    So “cliche” means it has been done enough already, and “genre” is a class or category?  So, wedding photography is a genre, and “bride walking up aisle with father”, “first kiss”, “couple leaving church”, and “bridal party all in a row” would all be cliches?  Actually everything on a wedding shot list has been done a lot.  Does that make the whole thing cliche?

    Dudley may have a point.  It’s how well executed and tasteful the shot is.  If everyone viewing it gasps and exclaims “Wow!  It’s gorgeous!”, almost everyone will miss that it is cliche.  If it’s not executed so well, it leaves room for people to think about French words they can apply.

    #23108
    emf
    Member

    Which is PRECISELY my point.  Do you honestly believe that if you haven’t the skills yet to do a so-called ‘cliche’ well that you can create something worthy of being called art by anyone other than yourself?  You can study and read about brain surgery for years, and unless you can handle the carving knife at Thanksgiving without creating turkey hash you will fail in the OR.

    As for your comment re: Avedon?  Different genre?  I have news dor you oh student of fine art, Avedon used a camera, artier-Bresson used a camera, Adams used a camera….and every single one of them had mastered its use before producing ‘art’. And I can assure you that if you were truly a student of ‘fine art’ you would find that even they made pictures of cliches.  Only because of their skilld and talents those cliches were truly art.  Now quit rationalizing, self aggrandizing, and get back to practicing with your camera…..or by a paint by numbers set, change all the numbers so it won’t be a cliche, and then offer it to MOMA.

    You seem to be of the viewpoint that I must go through such cliches to learn how to use my camera. But why? I’m not trying to be some hotshot, I just like very simple photography, and cliched things like the whole family wearing the same colour or even much or any use of props isn’t the kind of photography that interests me. So if people ask me to do that I will question it, hence the reason I posted. Do I want to go down that route or not.

    I’m not rationalising or self aggrandising at all. Far from it. But when you come at me and tell me I don’t even have a right to make a statement I will respond. Notice that this thread was kinda done and dusted until you rocked up. I had had good advice, which I was grateful for and if you had read properly both posters had advised I do the shoot, I absolutely saw their point, and was grateful for their advice.

    Then you came in with your conscending ‘he spaketh” crap. And said I can’t even make a statement. I’m simply stating a fact that I am an artist, no horn blowing as you suggest. But I’m saying I can make such a statement.

    I don’t agree with you that you first master your camera then concentrate on the art side. I believe the both sides of this medium to be equally important and both need to be nutured and developed from the get go. I taught art and while the skill side was imperative, it was never taught in isolation. Never, learn the skills first, then think of your own ideas. Creativity was always taught in equal measures.

    I practise with my camera a lot. There are gaps but improving the skill side of this is hugely important to me. And I will take any opportunity to improve. But why do you think that means I need to turn to a type of photography that doesn’t interest me?

    #23111
    emf
    Member

    Cliche:  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cliche?s=t

    Genre:  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/genre?s=t

    So “cliche” means it has been done enough already, and “genre” is a class or category?  So, wedding photography is a genre, and “bride walking up aisle with father”, “first kiss”, “couple leaving church”, and “bridal party all in a row” would all be cliches?  Actually everything on a wedding shot list has been done a lot.  Does that make the whole thing cliche?

    Dudley may have a point.  It’s how well executed and tasteful the shot is.  If everyone viewing it gasps and exclaims “Wow!  It’s gorgeous!”, almost everyone will miss that it is cliche.  If it’s not executed so well, it leaves room for people to think about French words they can apply.

    I think weddings for example are slightly different as yes there are the set shots as you’ve mentioned that you have to get. I guess you’re telling a story of the couples day and those set shots help tell that story. No though, I don’t agree they need to be especially cliched images. If you are a good photographer you know how to look for true moments in which you capture the essence of your subjects. So maybe what starts of as a cliche is developed by a skilled photographer as something of merit.

    The kind of cliches I’m talking about it holding baby boots on pregnant bellies or selective colour, or building blocks spelling out the name of the unborn child etc. Honestly, I don’t know how that kind of idea can become anything decent.

     

    #23114
    #23126

    Comforting while being a little depressing:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ftDjebw8aA#t=156

    #23128
    emf
    Member

    What a great word, so maybe I have vemodalenitus! I’m so pleased there’s a word for it 🙂

    It is hard to create something new. Some people are of the opinion you can’t shoot flowers or sunsets etc. as they have been done to death already. I completely disagree with this, I think it just makes it more of a challenge to make it your own.

    I don’t really have any issue with photographing common subjects, all subjects are common anyway, faces, landscapes, cityscapes, nudes etc. ; If we didn’t shoot such things there wouldn’t be anything to photograph!

    My issue is not shooting the same subject matter, but shooting the same ideas, ideas that have already been done a million times.

     

    #25229
    Visionthing
    Member

    I know I’m a bit late to this reply but….as a portrait photographer I’m always being directed by the client, relatives of the client, photo enthusiast friend or relative of the client. So here is what I do.

    If they have an idea I let them do it even if it’s ridiculous. After I spend 5 mins letting them getting it out of their system, I go on to do what I want. They came to you because supposedly they liked the look of your work.

    Once the images are done and they are back looking at all the photos from the shoot, they inevitably like the shots I produced better [cause my ideas are better since this is what I do] but their ideas were honored, so they feel listened to as a consumer.

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