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129/365 Just when you thought it was safe… | by david.travis
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129/365 Just when you thought it was safe…

This week’s Project52 assignment is to make a picture that sucks: “I want you to deliberately and distinctly MAKE a terrible photograph…This is an assignment to deliberately make a bad photo, not a technically weak photo.”


My first idea was to simply take a photo of someone placed in the middle of the frame and use on-camera flash. That would break the rules of good composition and the rules of good lighting simultaneously. But for me that’s a technically bad photo, so it was off limits according to the terms of the assignment.


So I thought a bit more about what I think makes photos good or bad.


I don’t really have many favourite photographers -- although I do have lots of favourite photographs. But if pushed I’d mention people like W. Eugene Smith, Alexander Rodchenko and Joe McNally since they never seem to put a foot wrong. Like some of my favourite photographers on flickr -- such as Mr Flibble and Michael Herb -- their photos are technically excellent, but that’s a given. There’s something more.


Then I thought about photos that I think are bad. I sit through a lot of PowerPoint presentations in my job and I’m frequently amazed at the predictable pictures that people use to illustrate their slides. We’ve all seen that close-up image of two hands in mid-handshake to indicate… well, whatever the speaker wants it to indicate. I forget as I’ve switched off by that time. That concept was probably original 20 years ago but now it’s lost all impact.


Putting those two thoughts together made me think that a good photo is really about avoiding cliché. So for me, a photo that sucks is one that states the obvious.


So here’s my clichéd photo to illustrate the concept, “Just when you thought it was safe…” I wonder if it will ever end up in someone’s PowerPoint deck?


Strobist: 60” umbrella to camera right about 48” from subject. Triggered by TTL cord.

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Taken on May 8, 2012