Photography Clichés

Started by dagza on the DPS forums, this is a list of the type of images that photographers of all experience levels have taken at one time or another. Some of these don’t seem like cliche’s but I found that it was an interesting topic and I collected the cliche’s from there and from other boards and posted them together here:

(Original comments are left unless they are vulgar/overly sexual)


  • Sunset
  • Sunrise
  • Vistas of mountaintops fading into the distance, double penalty when combined with a sunset or sunrise
  • Water drop splash
  • Rain on roses/flowers
  • A waterfall with a long shutter
  • Fall leaf/leaves on branch
  • Moon
  • Fire/Flames
  • Trees reflected in a lake
  • Grass macros
  • Lakes viewed through a gap in the trees on the banks
  • Birds on a wire
  • Water drops on leaves
  • Rocks in Sand – with or without water wetting part of the scene or curling around the stones, extra penalty for wisps of seaweed
  • Reeds in a lake silhouetted against the light of the rising or setting sun
  • Blackened skies in daylight photos – have you noticed that in night photos the sky is seldom the blackest part?


  • Pets at a fireplace
  • A dog front on with the dog lying down and its chin on floorboards/grass
  • Swimming dog


  • Macro of a bee (or butterfly) on a flower
  • A shot of droplets left hanging on a spider’s web


  • A head shot of a photographer holding the camera in portrait mode
  • Close up of an eye
  • Bathroom mirror self-portrait
    • Extremely angled “self-portraits” with a lot of forearm/bathroom counters
  • Cute little kid at a wedding
  • Your feet in [shoes, or bare in a stream, grass, the ocean]
  • You as multiple images in one photo
  • Bathroom mirror self-portrait
  • Little girl being swung
  • Little boy in leaves
  • A kid blowing bubbles
  • Old homeless guy on the sidewalk
  • Baby grabbing daddy’s finger
  • Long hair consuming someone’s face
  • Holding a guitar.
  • Wearing angel wings.
  • Wearing a gas mask.
  • Grinding a piece of metal.
  • Standing against an old brick wall.
  • Woman making a heart with her fingers over her pregnant belly.
  • People swinging on those big carousel things
  • On the street – the homeless, beggars, double penalty for the blind or crippled, triple penalty for the foregoing if holding a musical instrument

Photo Effects

  • Selective coloring
  • Soft focus woman in vignette
  • Light trails
  • Bokeh
  • HDR
  • Over-saturated photos – this can be a way to double up on a cliched subject
  • Partially colored B&W. Especially if the color involved is an additive primary. Roses are red, an overall is blue, and the neighbor’s grass really isn’t getting any greener.
  • Diffused nudes or bridal photography. Mutually exclusive of course, otherwise it might actually be interesting for once next time you’re invited over to view your best friend’s wedding pictures for an hour-and-a-half.


  • Wing of aircraft shot through window above clouds
  • Old door with scabby paint
  • Shots of small fruit being dropped in a bowl of water
  • Shots of fruit under a stream of water from the faucet.
  • Empty playground
  • Any fireworks
  • Train tracks/Road converging in the distance
  • Markers and colored pencils arranged in circles
  • Over-zealous textures
  • Smoke Shot
  • Standing on railroad tracks.
  • Shooting along fence lines
  • Mountain bike leaning against a sign post in the middle of nowhere.
  • Reflections
  • Geometric vistas formed by the patterns of contour farming
  • White fences – throw in gates, portico, doorways, arched entrances
  • Graveyards – double penalty for fog

I have no idea what the penalties are about (I gathered these from too many places too long ago), but I left them in. I might make the points ‘applicable’ in the future.


3 thoughts on “Photography Clichés

  1. Cliche maybe but vague as well. Sunrise and sunsets? That’s the best natural light there is. Cute kid at a wedding? If your a wedding photog you better take a picture of that kid. Mountain vistas? If you travel there you should take a picture of it. There’s just no way around it.

    • Well, I think these are vague and ‘well DUH’ suggestions because when you’re put on the spot, your mind may go blank. It usually happens with me. I also don’t think that the people making the list meant this to be for pro photogs or even people who are hobbyists with a declared focus (like how I would consider myself to be a people-photog). And to be even more honest, if I were in the mountains I’m not sure it would really occur to me to take a picture of the mountains. My focus would be more like, taking the picture of the natives, plant or wildlife, and maybe a sunrise/set.

      • I just saw this reply and had to comment. If you think that you wouldn’t take a picture of the mountains if you were in them then you must have never been to them. You really wouldnt be able to find many native folk walking around. I’ve been there and I have to say that there is some sort of magnetic effect that automatically pulls your lens to the face of the geological masterpiece. You should search flickr for some mountainscapes and tell me that you wouldnt find them photographic, I refuse to believe that. sorry just sayin.

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