Photographers become boring… sometimes

   © Pepa de Rivera y Guillermo Labarca

When we explore photography websites like Instagram,, Strkng, etc. etc. we find some treasures and a myriad of images that seem tedious, repetitive, devoid of content, artificial. Without having made a statistical study we can state that more than the majority of the photographs we see belong to the latter.

Some of the things we see is the obsession for taking all possible information out of the shadows, abusing Photoshop which leads to completely artificial images. The wet collodion used by Andreas Reh, Gilles Clement and Quinn Jacobson some decades ago to make expressive portraits is used today by many to relentlessly repeat portraits that don´t evoke much interest. The same happens with cross processed photos, the exaggerated use of backlight, backgrounds that are completely black with figures that are completely white, the abuse of contrast, etc.

Observing all of this makes us wonder why does it happen? Why is there so little personality and originality in current photography? Why do fashions impose themselves so easily and do we see hundreds, millions of photographers doing the same for a certain period, to pass on to another fashion later on? In contrast to what we see in authors that have used these methods to communicate a message, emotions, an understanding of aspects of reality, in the photographers we refer to we don´t see an intentionality linked to contents of any kind. It seems the only intention is “to be modern”, not to be outside of the fashionable currents, to receive at least one like… preferably many likes.

But perhaps there is a deeper reason which is that they are afraid: afraid of being old fashioned, of being unoriginal, of not being considered, of being outside of what is accepted, of showing their own technical limitations. These fears limit their bravery, make them unauthentic as photographers, and make them hide behind techniques taken on from others which have become fashionable and thus avoid showing their existential conditions, their own experiences, fears and joys in their photographs.

It isn´t bold to come to this conclusion if we consider the context we live in. This lack of authenticity is a symptom of the times, it is reflected in so much activities that require authenticity like politics, art, friendship, personal relationships, etc. All these are disguised in a very superficial openness, like we see in social networks.

We the photographers, like so many others, have a challenge: To make images that truly reveal our truths.