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DPChallenge Forums >> Stock Photography >> Stock Photography must die.
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06/03/2014 10:01:38 PM · #1
"Let me be blunt: Stock photography needs to die. In his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell argued that cliched language produces cliched thinking. Using a stale image, as he’d put it, “makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Stock photography imprisons us in the same cognitive jail. Its intentionally bland images are designed to be usable in many vaguely defined situations. This produces wretched photography for the same reason Hallmark cards produce wretched poetry. We live in a visual world, communicating and thinking in pictures. When we use stock photos, we think in cliches."

From Wired magazine-Only You Can Overthrow the Tyranny of Awful Stock Photos

Message edited by author 2014-06-03 22:03:05.
06/03/2014 10:16:00 PM · #2
When can we overthrow the tyranny of absolutism?

"Always remember to always say 'never say always.'"

Message edited by author 2014-06-03 22:16:28.
06/03/2014 10:27:39 PM · #3
I always never do.
06/04/2014 12:02:11 AM · #4
He said that in 1946?
Thank you for posting it.
06/04/2014 01:39:07 AM · #5
Originally posted by BrennanOB:

"Let me be blunt: Stock photography needs to die. In his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell argued that cliched language produces cliched thinking. Using a stale image, as he’d put it, “makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Stock photography imprisons us in the same cognitive jail. Its intentionally bland images are designed to be usable in many vaguely defined situations. This produces wretched photography for the same reason Hallmark cards produce wretched poetry. We live in a visual world, communicating and thinking in pictures. When we use stock photos, we think in cliches."

From Wired magazine-Only You Can Overthrow the Tyranny of Awful Stock Photos


It's thoroughly comparable to "meeting the challenge description" at DPC. The most popular photographs will nearly always be bland cliches. The most adventurous or ambitious will nearly always be rejected or dismissed by the majority for not meeting a pre-conceived view of what's required: DNMC. It's the very same cognitive jail and for the same reason.
06/04/2014 02:13:00 AM · #6
Originally posted by ubique:

It's thoroughly comparable to "meeting the challenge description" at DPC. The most popular photographs will nearly always be bland cliches. The most adventurous or ambitious will nearly always be rejected or dismissed by the majority for not meeting a pre-conceived view of what's required: DNMC. It's the very same cognitive jail and for the same reason.


I would argue that this is a themed challenge site, a technique site, and to a much lesser degree, a think-outside-the-box site. I would also argue that "experimenting" is a very personal thing, and that what might seem cliche to one person may be another's first time trying anything like it. And finally, when placed in the context of a "theme", regardless of the setting, the further out of the box one experiments, and the less we consider the theme, the likelier we are to distance ourselves from most viewers.

If we could live our lives without any structure, always just having unique and out of the box views and ideas, for some it would be heaven and for others hell.
06/04/2014 06:13:05 AM · #7
Originally posted by tanguera:

Originally posted by ubique:

It's thoroughly comparable to "meeting the challenge description" at DPC. The most popular photographs will nearly always be bland cliches. The most adventurous or ambitious will nearly always be rejected or dismissed by the majority for not meeting a pre-conceived view of what's required: DNMC. It's the very same cognitive jail and for the same reason.


I would argue that this is a themed challenge site, a technique site, and to a much lesser degree, a think-outside-the-box site. I would also argue that "experimenting" is a very personal thing, and that what might seem cliche to one person may be another's first time trying anything like it. And finally, when placed in the context of a "theme", regardless of the setting, the further out of the box one experiments, and the less we consider the theme, the likelier we are to distance ourselves from most viewers.

If we could live our lives without any structure, always just having unique and out of the box views and ideas, for some it would be heaven and for others hell.


And I would argue – in fact I do argue – that submitting what is essentially the same photograph over and over again, in some notable cases year after year, in the knowledge that a fresh crop, or maybe the same crop, of naifs will applaud it is not really photography in any meaningful sense. It's actively anti-creative, just as Orwell pointed out. It's really no different to the Hallmark cards mentioned in the OP; something that's cynically calculated to appeal to the undiscriminating. There's none of your implied journey of discovery or evolution involved for such photographers because they were never going anywhere to begin with.
06/04/2014 11:00:11 AM · #8
Originally posted by ubique:

Originally posted by tanguera:

Originally posted by ubique:

It's thoroughly comparable to "meeting the challenge description" at DPC. The most popular photographs will nearly always be bland cliches. The most adventurous or ambitious will nearly always be rejected or dismissed by the majority for not meeting a pre-conceived view of what's required: DNMC. It's the very same cognitive jail and for the same reason.


I would argue that this is a themed challenge site, a technique site, and to a much lesser degree, a think-outside-the-box site. I would also argue that "experimenting" is a very personal thing, and that what might seem cliche to one person may be another's first time trying anything like it. And finally, when placed in the context of a "theme", regardless of the setting, the further out of the box one experiments, and the less we consider the theme, the likelier we are to distance ourselves from most viewers.

If we could live our lives without any structure, always just having unique and out of the box views and ideas, for some it would be heaven and for others hell.


And I would argue – in fact I do argue – that submitting what is essentially the same photograph over and over again, in some notable cases year after year, in the knowledge that a fresh crop, or maybe the same crop, of naifs will applaud it is not really photography in any meaningful sense. It's actively anti-creative, just as Orwell pointed out. It's really no different to the Hallmark cards mentioned in the OP; something that's cynically calculated to appeal to the undiscriminating. There's none of your implied journey of discovery or evolution involved for such photographers because they were never going anywhere to begin with.


I do agree with you about the nature of "creativity", or lack thereof. But you lose me on the whole is/isn't a "photograph" bit. I would like to understand it better because it widens MY perceptions, but more often than not, your arguments seem more like a matter of personal taste.
06/04/2014 11:38:02 AM · #9
Yeah, you're quite right. It is just a matter of personal taste. I didn't say "isn't a photograph" though. I said not meaningful photography. Of course, photography doesn't have to have meaning. Stock photography doesn't have meaning. But it does debase and diminish the photography that does, which is the extension of the Orwell argument.
06/04/2014 11:54:10 AM · #10
"The true cure for stock photography is inside your camera phone."
06/04/2014 11:54:11 AM · #11
As someone that occasionally tries to think out-of-the-box but often gets lazy / is uninspired / tries to chase a high score and resorts to "submitting what is essentially the same photograph over and over again..." this stuff is all good for me to ponder over. Thanks for posting the article and the engaging discussion.
06/04/2014 12:22:55 PM · #12
Thanks for posting this thought provoking piece. Stock photography and DPC do have much in common. I'll leave it at that since I'm not bent on changing anybody's opinion.
06/04/2014 05:47:38 PM · #13
Originally posted by ubique:

... submitting what is essentially the same photograph over and over again ...

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1115744.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1115744.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' Screen-capture of my most-frequesntly downloaded images at Shutterstock.

I try to not repeat myself too much, but after 1200 1300 or so challenges it's hard to be completely original every time... :-(
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