None of the following is meant to be taken seriously. It is merely a series of observations of trends which I have partaken in photographically since joining the ranks of social media some years ago. Many of these trends result in photographic popularity, fewer of them critical acclaim and possibly even fewer have resulted in a ‘purist’ type of personal satisfaction. Comments in italic are my real thoughts on the subjects after the opening frivolity.
1) So sharp it slices my eyes!
You know that fluffy stuff in the sky? It needs to be sharp enough to cut through aeroplanes flying through. You know that long exposure water, sorry, not sharp enough, give it a knife edge to deal with those seascapers who dare venture in!
[I believe that not every part of an image needs to be tack sharp. Clouds being one and any kind of water exposure that results in trailing being another. Representing reality isn’t a common goal for all photographers but next time you take a look in the sky or sea, do you get the ‘screen’ experience of sharpness? Canvas prints are probably an exception for me as the sharpness certainly gives a palpable texture. ]
2) Bleed me into ecstasy!
Oh what a lovely glow of light from the sun. Oh what an even lovelier glow of light from those wooden reflections. Oh wow, even the dark sides of the mountain are bleeding now, what a rapturous world we live in!
[The orton effect or other blur methods are frequently being used on highlights to give a sense of light bleeding from a source. I wonder if we should be a little more judicious so that the same effect is not visible from dark areas to give a ‘shadow bleed’. Like many photographic trends, moderation is probably the key.]
3) The stars illuminate us all!
The cosmos shines upon us so brightly as if it were day, so brightly as if the stars clustered together as one to bring twilight to universe and earth as one. What harmony!
[Milky way twilight exposure blends are definitely ‘in’. While the images can be striking , a few post processing factors arise when viewing this new subgenre. ‘Lighten’ blend mode is one of the methods which are used to blend these images and when composited from a different scene, it’s interesting to note stars in the land! Transitions to the sky can also look pasted in with odd transitions between sky and land and often a washed out kind of look of the land itself. Last of all, many shots appear to have a point source of light from a shot taken in sunny conditions. All this might not matter but it does cause me some confusion and takes away from plausability. ]
4) I demand your attention, I repeat, I demand your attention!
The first image of the scene was amazing, the second amazinger, the third amazinger still and the fourth the amazingest yet. Oh man, they all look the same, but they’re all amazing. YOU are amazing ❤ .
[Displaying portfolio images of multiple shots from the same scene is pretty commonplace. I personally do it up front before culling down on the platforms of display that ‘matter’ ; for example our print website. Personally, I find it a little less impactful when viewing a portfolio that is led strongly by the one scene with multiple repeats. I make sure that nothing goes up on our ‘proper’ site without at least having to stew about various versions for a few months. I wonder if the approach of multiple images gains more interest from the general public while the approach of limiting images from a scene may gain more respect from one’s photographic peers. To that end, whichever approach you choose probably needs to be tailored to the demographic of the social media platform chosen. ]
5) So creamy yet so crispy!
Wow, look at that amazing stripy sky and the crashing waves. Nature at its finest no doubt!
[Another trend for seascapers is to include an ethereally exposed long exposure foreground with smoothed white water motion but then a crisp dramatic sky that is clearly a very short exposure. Sometimes it is also done in reverse. These images have an undoubted impact but once again, like the milky way twilight issue, they tend to confuse me past the original wow factor]
6) I’ll call it moody.
So dark, so colourless, so contrasty, so awesome!
[Have you ever turned an image into monochromatic format just because the colours didn’t turn out right? I definitely have and I reckon probably none of those images are ones that I would consider portfolio worthy. Most of the monochromatic images I have set out to do have been shot in conditions which had me thinking mono to begin with. Also, just as a personal preference, what’s with the blue skies that are pitch black (not just dark) in the mono conversion? ]
7) A perfect reflection!
Wow , such a perfect reflection ! Must have been awesome to be near that dead still pond of water!
[Reflection shots can be dramatic but often you can tell when it is too perfect. A dead horizontal line at transition is a good way to shoot for presenting this style of image and is reflected in the final presentation. I have yet to see an unaltered image of a perfect milky way reflection to date but this is also being done with more frequency]
8) I live under a bridge, throw me some scraps!
I finish this post with the ultimate confession of occasionally trolling for responses with posts that are said in a light tone but may provoke responses by those who think I am directly targeting a piece of work. Rest be assured that anyone reading this post could believe this post is about them given the frequency of the above #hotphotographictrends so this is not about you! . I firmly believe that the more one reviews one’s own work and practice with a critical eye, the more one can correct errors or traps which one may have unknowingly fallen into. Some of these traps though are nothing to do with images or scenes but rather a desired personal goal or direction. Perhaps THE most important point I would like to make is somewhat of a broken record: as a group of artists, we can push the direction of our field any direction we like. I do however fear that the appreciation of our end results may soon become an appreciation of the final ‘arty’ product itself rather than an appreciation of the natural world. I can appreciate the beauty of the Painted Hills of Oregon at twilight. I can appreciate gazing at the stars of the dark southern sky milky way. But is it to our benefit or detriment that we now have the ability to appreciate both at once no matter how naturally impossible ?
And now to finish off on a musically historical note from Carly Simon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g