I suppose it’s a consequence of getting older that you develop enough perspective to notice trends and fashions in the use of language.  The word “without” is a case in point.  For most of my life it meant “lacking” or referred to an absence and then suddenly an archaic usage was resurrected and it seemed that it had replaced “outside” in the vocabulary of politicians, presenters and even colleagues.  How did this change come about?  Did it begin with one person who desired change and influenced others?

The word “trope” as in a recurring theme or motif seems to have gained favour in much the same way, and in doing so has become a trope in itself whenever drama or literature are discussed these days.  I don’t recall ever hearing it in the last century.

Photography is subject to similar forces.  I have been completely perplexed at the response to a blog post I wrote a few weeks ago about my visit to Tower Bridge.  Traffic soared, followers multiplied and positive feedback reached unheard of levels.  I couldn’t identify a tangible cause so have been forced to speculate and have concluded that there are two possible reasons: the first that I made reference to Donald Trump, the second that my image of the bridge with the lights of a passing bus was thought to be particularly creative._PW_7806

And there’s the rub.  Browse through the many portfolios on ViewBug and you’ll find many similar shots, shots that inspired me to try to recreate the effect.  It’s possible that my version is better than some.  It’s certainly no better than others.

Which brings me to “meme”, a word first coined by Richard Dawkins and meaning a cultural element passed from one person to another.  Imitation, inspiration or simply the sharing of ideas?

Over the years there have been a number of techniques that I’ve wished to emulate, more to learn the technique than to copy a particular image, but the ability that the internet provides to view the work of so many of course reveals that I’m not the only one doing so.  As a result the desire to try soon evaporates for the results have become clichéd.

It’s rare to find a portfolio that doesn’t include one of the following;

  • a long exposure of a waterfall where the water becomes a ribbon of white or diaphanous curtain
  • night-time shots of light painting, usually done by twirling a sparking piece of steel wool on the end of a chain – interesting effect but one that usually looks completely out-of-place in the settings chosen
  • macro (close up) shots of dandelion heads_PW_0357
  • high-speed shots of water drops
  • a monochrome nude the waistband of some skimpy underwear with the heel of one shoe, and of course
  • _PW_0823-Editthe levitation shot, usually with a model reclining in mid-air before some woodland backdrop or decaying room.  (If you’re not sure this looks like here’s my send up selfie, or if you want to learn to do it properly then click here!)

There’s one trend, trope, meme or cliché that I’ve not been able to resist however.  A number of my peers have posted striking shots of wildlife shot in monochrome against a background of pure black.  Since many of these are of truly deadly subjects it seemed unlikely that a black backdrop had been used so it took me a while and a bit of research to understand the technique before I succumbed.   What other failings does my portfolio contain I wonder… ?http://www.viewbug.com/member/aphotogenicworld



4 thoughts on “Tropes, Memes and Clichés

  1. Ducks & geese can sometimes look a bit clumsy, even comical – – but in this portrait, the subject looks very handsome indeed! A bird of significance. The black background really lends dignity.
    A very interesting post. And I’m sure, now “trending”

  2. Yes, the white plumage is elegant.
    I don’t know what linguistic horrors our current “Presidential Race” will produce, usually some sort of buzzword starts circling our heads about now. Got very tired of hearing about “embedded journalists” in Iraq/Afghanistan, I was surprised the reporters accepted something so close to “in bed with” — and when the extramarital affair of General Petraeus and his biographer was publicized, it became even more ambiguous.
    Perhaps your list of fads would include X-ray, or faux X-ray pictures of plants, flowers, etc. — sometimes interesting, especially to dentists, I guess, but usually looks like a gallery in the Addams Family mansion, and “enough already”

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