Arrowrock Photography | WORKOUT SESSION: KLEE SHAY


February 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment



Who is Klee Shay? 

Klee Shay is a fun-loving person whose actions speaks louder than words, doesn't judge books by their covers, is better safe than sorry, doesn't cry over spilled milk, and is dressed to kill. Make no mistake, Klee wouldn't be caught dead using hackneyed phrases, but needless to say, turns a blind eye when there's profit to be made.

Klee likes doing things for their own sake, especially if they've already been done to death.

And so on.

In other words, Klee Shay loves cliche.

You see where this is going... and yes, you'd be right.

We're going to spend two weeks exploring cliche, but not to root it out of our work. Not directly, leastwise. We'll do just the opposite - shoot every cliche in the book and have a smacking good time of it in the process.

Much of our photographic journey entails uprooting poor habits in search of real skill and truthful expression - and it's time well spent. Still, we can fall into traps along the way - traps of style, rules, competition, shortcuts, over-reliance on plugins. We eddie off into whirlpools that move fast but take us round in circles. We may get too comfortable and before long, cliche starts creeping in to our workflow. Our photos may have never looked better, but they don't move, disturb, excite, or penetrate anymore. Maybe they're too technically perfect. 

How do we know what's cliche and what's "art?" Loaded question, that. For me, it would be getting too friendly with a technique and no longer experimenting along the wild edges of the unknown. For you, it will be something else. What pushes your cliche buttons?

It's been said (and it's on the cliche lists) that the best way to fight fire is with fire. So let's apply that logic to our photography by creating a list of common photographic cliches and purposely shooting them. That should punch some good holes in our egos! For a couple weeks we'll stop taking ourselves too seriously, or seriously at all, and get out there to digitize as many cliches as we can. We're leaping off the gerbil wheel of perfection and into the meadow choked with flowers, weeds, gopher holes, red foxes, garden snakes, tree roots, and compost. And cliches. 

Let's start with a short sample list of photography cliches. Cliches come and go, but there's always a list. What was fashionable 30 years ago is cliche now, but may be fashionable again in 10 more. Who knows? So let's have fun with them

To wit:

  • Obnoxious watermarks
  • Over-saturated HDR
  • Batman Tilt (Dutch Angle)
  • Spot color
  • Selfies
  • Significant other in front of a landmark
  • Heavy black or white vignettes
  • Text overlaid on a photo
  • Bokeh
  • Signature watermarks
  • Fake lens flare (extra points if a bride is in the shot)
  • Every sunset ever
  • Homeless or street people
  • Safari animals
  • Flowers
  • Meme templates
  • 500px
  • National park "shoot here" locations
  • Cheesy filters
  • High key
  • Low key
  • Stock photos on white backgrounds
  • Optical illusions
  • Colored borders
  • Blurred waterfalls
  • Upside down reflections 

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Man, is there anything I shoot that isn't a cliche? At least I won't have any trouble finding photos to post.

Here's the ironic side effect of purposefully shooting cliches. By the end of our assignment, I'll predict that we are shooting less cliche and pushing boundaries more.

To make this more fun, let's work under a shared alias. Let's call our alias Klee Shay. Post a photo with the tagline "photo by Klee Shay" and see how many people get it. 

Klee Shay will run for two weeks, from Feb 27 through Mar 12. Happy shooting!

"Leap into the boundless and make it your home!" - Chuang-Tzu


  • If you'd like to share in these workouts with other people (always a great idea), you're invited to join my Facebook Photo Assignment group where you can post images and comments, learn from others, and help other budding photographers learn our amazing craft. 
  • If you're interested in bettering your Photoshop and Lightroom skills, I have an aptly named second Facebook group called Circle of Confusion. You're invited to join it, as well, but you'll need to be a Photo Assignment member first. Join both and you're good to go.
  • Need some hands-on training? I teach several classes during the year through Sawtooth Photo Pros. Current class schedule is available here: SPP-CLASSES



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