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Photographing Stereotypes and Cliches

Updated on June 20, 2017
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source

You have heard about cliches or know something about them or even had had one thrown upon your persona and you most certainly are aware of what a stereotype is. Most can be inncocent but there are many cliches and stereotypes that are hurtful to those they are aimed at.

They can be about almost anything whether real or imagined. Hair color, eye color, weight, stature, which hand you use for wrtting, how you speak, your accent and most damaging, where you were born.

Photographing such cliches is yet another in the long list of photographic projects which can be fun to do, but one in which you should exercise a degree of modesty and awareness about your intended subjects as well as your intended audiences.

Perhaps a definition of what is commonly referred to as a cliche/ stereo type will give you a better idea of why common sense is needed when conducting such a project:

"A cliché or cliche (pronounced UK: /ˈkliːʃeɪ/, US: /klɪˈʃeɪ/) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. In phraseology, the term has taken on a more technical meaning, referring to any expression imposed by conventionalized linguistic usage. The term is frequently used in modern culture for an action or idea which is expected or predictable, based on a prior event. Typically a pejorative, "clichés" are not always false or inaccurate; a cliché may or may not be true.[1] Some are stereotypes, but some are simply truisms and facts.[2] Clichés are often employed for comic effect, typically in fiction." Wikipedia

An easier way would be to hire some models or use some friends and record their images that are representative of cliches or of stereotypes. But barring them you can also find some samples in nature like some animals; a pig for example. a fish and a worm, a vulture and carrion and so on.

However the most poignant images are usually those featuring real people. Whatever subject you use do so with care and aim not to be offensive unless your project is directed towards a book or article featuring this very poignancy such a a study of relationships and society.

Once you have made plans about the specifics of the project proceed to look for suitable subjects or arrange and prepare your models. You may have to includes some props such as wigs, "excess body weight", really heavy glasses, make someone look really small, have big ears, a big nose and the list goes on. Most of these props can be easily obtained from many costume stores or arts supplies shops.

If you find it hard to come up with some cliches or stereotypes or even are at a loss as to how portray them in photographs, a simple research of the net will yield quite a few sample sites with lists and samples from which to start your creative juices flowing.

Some sites are excellent sources leading to the host country or region from which the cliche or stereotype originated or is most commonly used as well as historical interpretations and other nuances associated with them.


© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      penlady: Thank you

    • penlady profile image

      penlady 5 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      Excellent hub. An overlooked subject that does need to be discussed in our society.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      teaches12345: Thank you

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Interesting photo theme idea. Love the wedding photo you posted. Very informational.