The REAL definition of bad photography

5 things photographers do that really bother me

Former editor of our print magazine, Geoff Harris, paints pictures with words, waxes lyrical and intermittently blows his top in his new column. In his debut he ponders the true definition of ‘bad’ photography.

The REAL definition of bad photography

Welcome to my new column where I will pick apart the topics that matter to the serious photographer.

I’m going to begin by talking about ‘bad’ photography, a subject on which I can speak with authority. But this is not about me, it’s about what, exactly, so we mean by ‘bad’ photography?

Travel firm recently got a lot of column inches by promoting its regular competition to find Britain’s worst holiday photographer, and we all chuckled at the off-kilter composition and ‘creative’ focussing on display.

It’s a cheap laugh at the expense of the clueless snappers who were named and shamed, and good publicity for

For me, though, really bad photography is work that lacks creativity and imagination.

The box-ticking landscape photographer who delivers the same kind of hackneyed, formulaic image we’ve seen a million times before, usually in some done-to-death place like Durdle Dor in Dorset, the Isle of Skye, or Yosemite. Big boulder to deliver foreground interest – tick. A footpath ‘leading in’ the eye – tick. Overcooked ND Grad sky that looks like the start of Armageddon – tick.

Or the lazy wedding photographer who charges the bride a bomb for lots of stiffly posed, overflashed images – or at the other end of the scale, the ‘journalistic’ wedding ‘tog who uses their relaxed style to cover up sloppy composition and poor camera technique.

So I say the real crime against photography is a lack of creative effort. It’s the difference between a painting by Van Gogh and painting by numbers.

Now, we can’t all be Van Gogh, but try and do one thing for your photography this week – whether you are a beginner or a pro, try to approach your landscape or a portrait work in a fresher, more open-minded way. Take some risks.

If you’re feeling a bit stuck, take some time out to look at creative work online, browse some cool new photography books in a store or go to a gallery. Try to think different.

What’s the point of just copying somebody else’s idea of ‘good’ photography? That, to me, is the definition of bad photography.


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