Social Norms and Trends in Photojournalism

The better I know social norms, the more precisely I can break them. Why break them? That’s a personal conviction. It isn’t always what you might choose. But, breaking rules or norms or going against trends is often interesting if done with true awareness of the opposing trends. Sometimes a trend can have less obvious aspects that can be opposed and thus shedding light on an alternative dichotomy. This can help you stand out from the rest of the pretty pictures.

Marketing and advertising does this sometimes, but so does high fashion. You’ve seen it, but maybe didn’t know you were allowed to do it too. I do it unconsciously. I infuse my scenes with unpopularity and broken rules when the opportunity comes.

Sometimes the photographer’s story is what qualifies the scene as any artistic scene isn’t complete without the story of the artist. The artist may blatantly break his or her own rules sometimes just because… it can be done, perhaps, or to teach the viewer not to assume anything.

Quite often a captured image is interesting because it break the typical expectations. Maybe it’s a scene of a period correct figure from ancient history holding a cell phone. This breaks rules but raises questions such as “is this a move set?”

Doing what is ugly mixed with beauty is a good technique used to create a layer of interest in a photo. The ugliness and beauty help to define and contrast each other.

The goal of an image really probably should never be to be “pretty”. This is only one element to work with. Beauty appeals to us in some way but does not tell a story and ring our bell with questions and provocation on a whole mind level.

If politics are used in photos, which is hard to avoid in some cases, then it can be treated gently and subtly with artistic absurdity, depicting both sides of a conflict in a way that shows the futility of both struggles.

You will almost always being hurting someone’s feelings, and breaking some rule in any given project. The real question is how artfully and deliberately can you offend someone in a way that transcends ego and fragility through an invitation for deeper exploration?