Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Four Cliches

This lesson is especially important if you are an equine photographer and you are hoping to take your work beyond the commercial and into Fine Art. So take note! There are four image subject matter that have been done to death. All of them make for lovely greeting cards, calenders and posters to be sold to pre-teen horse obsessed girls. But if you are thinking of entering your work in a Fine Art competition or heading with it to a substantial gallery, you had better be sure that your rendition of these are so very different than everything everyone else has done. They'd better be remarkable!

1 - Eye Shots. Yes, we know how beautiful and liquid a horses eye is. We know how they can reflect the landscape if shot just right. We know that they are the "windows to the soul". We have even seen more than enough shots with that as the title.

2 - Mare and Foal Shots also grouped with Foal in Field of Flowers - The "awww" factor aside, I have rarely seen one that is truly more than cute. And cute - a fine art photo does not make.

3 - Cowboy Silhouette with Sunset - I can hear the theme song to Bonanza in my head....but I have rarely if ever thought "art" when seeing one of these.

The newest addition to the cliche category comes right from the headlines. And I am wholly supportive of all of the wonderful photographers who are using their images to influence the anti-Wild horse roundup efforts. But......

4 - Wild Horses Running Free or Wild Stallions Fighting or the ubiquitous Wild Horse with Blowing Mane shot does not automatically make it a Fine Art image! Good politics must learn to separate the surface emotion enough from a photograph to understand if it makes for a shot that can stand on it's own without the sentiment of politics. Fierce Grace by Tony Stromberg and many of the shots by Dutesco do....but very few that have been done since. They make for beautiful and important photographs, but they are not art.

Any subject that gets over done, loses it's impact and becomes a huge challenge to those trying to create art from it. That does not mean that it is not possible to do. But it does mean that very, very few will be able to do it in a unique enough way to capture the attention of the savvy Fine Art viewer.

Oh and by the own close-up body shots are getting to cliche status now too with the incredible number of photographers now doing their own version of them. So as you might own work will have to evolve now. Time to go beyond the cliche and explore the unknown. Who will join me?

Juliet (and my photo above, does not make the cut either. It is just another nice eye shot.)


Margie said...

You are so on the spot with these !
I am thinking of dropping following a "wild" horse photo person because I am so over it - yet at the beginning I was enthralled and now - I am desensitized to the images - sadly.

Rochester Trail Riders said...

We run a Horse Photos link party every Wednesday and would love for you to join in the fun. Great way to promote your blog.

Rochester Trail Riders said...

Totally agree, all 4 of those have been done to death. Though I am still partial to the equine eye.

Sara Tommins said...

Wow. Snooty tone, exaggeration and declarations. "They make for beautiful and important photographs, but they are not art." Really?? So YOU alone define what "art" is?? The person who has a photo like one you've described on their wall... that's not art?? Oh, it's not "fine" art as you say. But a close up of a horse's rump or mane is? I was a fan of your work until I read this blog post.

Juliet said...

A legitimate question you ask. First, I suppose as the show director of an International Equine Art competition, I do see myself as an bit of an educated expert on the subject. But, it is also true that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Including me. In the years that we have been running the show, I can say emphatically, that these four cliches have been done to death. And I still hold to my point of view on them.