What is it about the great Australian Outback’s magical aura that inspires – actually, compels – visitors to attempt to capture its essence? Is it the amazing colours and contrasts? Perhaps the unique light artists spend a lifetime trying to capture?? The spectacularly varied subject matter???
Whatever it is, it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo.
So photographers like me keep snapping – euphoric with the knowledge that TODAY at least, there’ll be some good, no – GREAT – shots!! But once home, the elation wears off. Because that’s when it becomes apparent photography’s unpardonable sin has been committed YET AGAIN.
Yes, those shots – although wonderful – are Outback clichés. Bummer.
So what’s a veteran cliché-shot snapper like me to do??
Well … if you’ve got lemons, make lemonade, right?
Right! SO … I’ve sacrificed myself to bring you this handy guide using my very own pix as examples! Keep reading for the 7 worst Outback photographic clichés the world has ever seen and how I fell into the ‘done to death’ trap!!
Cliché #1: Tree/Sky
Oh yes! Yes!! YES!!! Isn’t this subject amazing? The spare, minimalist lines. The crisp contrast between the branches and the sky. The strong, clear colours. The metaphor for death as part of life. The intolerable cliché … But this tree (above) at Bowra Sanctuary has so much going on I just HAD to snap it!
Cliché #2: Windmill
Actually, ANY inanimate object will do.
But the windmill is particularly popular – more so than, say, a telegraph pole – because of its texture, silhouette and reflective properties!
What’s not to love about a good windmill shot?
Except that every man & his dog who’s been to the same place has a snap roughly identical.
But it’s a fabulous reminder of our very first visit to Thargomindah!!
Cliché #3: Spot the Fauna
At first glance, the kangaroo you MAY be able to see centre shot may come as a surprise – although not to me! That’s why I took this picture!! Even though I just knew the zoom in my old film camera wasn’t quite enough to make the subject big enough to spot without a magnifying glass …
But this White Cliffs moment makes a great outback scene, doesn’t it? HHHMMMmmm… maybe I shouldn’t have told you about the kangaroo …
Cliché #4: Footprints/Sand Dune
Hasn’t almost everyone you know got a great ‘footprints in the sand’ shot like this? Much as I love sand dunes, especially at Perrys Sandhill, near Wentworth, NSW I can’t look at sandy footprint photos without hearing an imaginary sepulchural voiceover in the background … ‘like sands though the hourglass …’
Cliché #5: Ruined Building
I defy ANYONE with a camera at hand to pass by a scene like this WITHOUT taking a shot. And to stop at just one … I think taking photos is actually mandatory in situations with gaping roofs, crumbling rock, rotting wood and dry grasses like Kanyaka Homestead. Isn’t it??
Cliché #6: Railway Track/Middle Distance
So long, so straight, so photogenic, such a cliché. Especially with that perfect light scattering of cloud against the glorious blue sky!!
What am I talking about? It’s a GREAT shot!! Just a pity I’m not the only one to have captured it … although no one else was around at Menindee Lakes that day!
And don’t think changing the subject matter from railway track to fence or road will save it from terminal cliché-dom either!!
Cliché #7: Rocks
Seen one, seen ’em all, right? RIGHT??? Well … maybe! Rocks, outback light, clear blue sky. It’s a killer combination – and irresistible to amateurs like me.
Maybe one day I’ll work out how to take shots that look different to the ones everyone else has. But until then, I’ll console myself with my favourite Devil’s Marbles shot (below)!!
Maybe the cliché-shot police will arrest me and throw away the key, but I don’t care!
Anyway, how is a photo a cliché when it’s the first time you’ve visited and photographed?
And even if THAT’S a crime, I still don’t care! These pix are MY clichés and I’ve enjoyed every minute of being at the places they were taken!!
So how do you avoid ‘doing it to death’ photographically? Short answer – don’t! Take shots of places you love and enjoy, and share them! I won’t know if YOUR shots are cliches – and the next time you go there, you’ll look for a different way to take the photo! Am I right??
Come back for more if you dare!!!