I Would Love To See A Representation Of The World That Isn’t Photographic Clichés

- - Blog News

I am looking forward to being surprised by imaginative photography that is original, curious, and thoughtful. I am not concerned at all about what equipment has been used, I am not sure it’s really very relevant. I would love to see a representation of the world that isn’t reductive, that doesn’t represent the world in photographic cliches – old or new cliches. Since the first year I judged the contest, I saw photographers emulating work that had been successful in previous years or plagiarizing the style and vision of someone else.

– Gary Knight, Chair of  2013 World Press Photo Contest

via World Press Photo.

There Are 13 Comments On This Article.

  1. I agree and would like to see the same thing.

    The reason why it won’t happen is because photography is not an established institution consecrated by objective form. Photographers just make up whatever rules they want for shooting… “IF it feels good, shoot it”…”Rules are meant to be broken.”….”Gear doesn’t matter”… etc etc etc

    When a medium does not have an objective form, then it becomes ruled by conventional formulas associated with genres. This why most photographers are always struggling to categorize work as landscape, portrait, glamour etc. All of those categories are genres. Furthermore, the price of admission into a genre is “resemblance.” This means that all genre work is based on how similarity. Unfortunately, similarity is the opposite of originality. So it’s very difficult to expect original work to manifest itself in a photographic environment dominated by genres.

    Objective form is based on metaphorical expression which means that content is arbitrary. For example, harmony can be expressed in a photograph of a supermodel, a landscape, or a pile of trash in the desert. Any object or content can be used for the expression of objective form. The point is that when photographers and audiences begin to demand and appreciate “pure forms” instead of superficial content, then the types of photographs that will be created to fill the need will begin to defy the familiar cliches present in conventional genre work.

  2. not gonna happen.
    only every other year something really new in photography will come along. and most of it is just stuff that got forgotten over time and has been done 20, 40 or 100 years ago. all else is a repetition of the old mantra “everything has been photographed, just not by me”. mr knight has the additional problem that he sees a lot of images and probably remembers too many of them, so he will always run into pictures that he has seen before.
    of course there will be plagiats, but even photographers that don’t walk trodden paths will be influenced by the history and will have a hard time being “new” all the time.

  3. Is this the same Gary Knight who boasted a couple of years back about the incredible diversity that could be found at his beloved VII- diversity of: gender, age, class, you name it. Every single human distinction imaginable, except uhmmm, uhhhh… race- the diversity of which could only be found on the other side of the lens! That Gary Knight? The one who could not find a single photographer of color in the entire freakin’ world talented and worthy enough to integrate VII in the 21st fuckin’ century. That Gary Knight?

    You wanna talk cliches- let’s talk about a guy who rabidly defended an all white organization presenting their “unique” view of a mostly non white world to a majority white audience. Damn- no cliche to be found there…

    • I’m 100% German, green eyes, and directly related to Wagner on my mother’s side….hope that doesn’t bother you much

  4. Your ethnicity and phenotype doesn’t bother me in the very least- the fact that you purposely or mistakenly misinterpreted my comment is rather disturbing though…

  5. Everything seems to be a cliché in every medium; it’s tiresome to see someone point that out.
    And Mike, I agree with you to a certain point about categorizing work as with simple genres. The thing I believe you fail to mention is that these categories aren’t necessarily embraced by the artists themselves, but by the art world trying to sell artwork. It’s essentially a filing system gone hog wild. But I do agree with Gary on his point about equipment. Working in a lab what I find as creative inspiration in would people’s personal slides from the 1950′s-70′s, they are just snap shots but they are better then the work I see from students or even hanging in galleries.
    So what if something is cliché, the test of a creative mind is to make something more then a cliché.