Photographers have these things we like to call "crutches."
Similar to the actual medical tools, a trusty old crutch can be our best friend and worst enemy. It simply depends how often we need to use it.
A "crutch" is something we might fall back on to make an otherwise dull photo a bit more interesting.
For example, several years back, a mentor and friend of mine told me repeatedly, "You tilt your camera too much." By tilting the horizon, I was trying to make the photo something it most definitely wasn't: Interesting. I even remember I got a NastyGram e-mail from a local resident, saying it made her feel queasy every morning to look at my tilted photographs. People can be brutal. :)
Another crutch I'm 100 percent guilty of, brought to my attention by a former photo editor: "Get your camera off the ground." I was, am still am, too dependent on a low angle photograph.
Editors sometimes cringe at crutches, such as motion blur or fish eye lenses, because more often than not, we should instead be finding real moments, or expanding our horizons and attempting new photographic techniques.
When I was shooting down in Florida, my good friend Chris McGonigal (now a picture editor at AOL) told me one of his biggest pet peeves is when photographers use a flag as the crutch of their photo. Flags can be cliche, but flags are patriotic. There's a time to get the American flag in a photo and there's a time to leave the flag alone. Veterans Day: Appropriate. Wedding photos: Not-so-appropriate. (My brother was married a few weeks back, and needless to say, he and his new wife were a bit confused when the photographer took their photo standing by a flagpole on the golf course.)
As I shot these photos for Veterans Day, the American in me was grateful for all the sacrifices made by veterans of past and present, for without them, the First Amendment would not exist. And the photographer in me kept thinking, "What would Chris say?"
Nikon D3, 200 mm, 4000 ISO, f2.8, 1/800, Manual
John Hopkins, of the New Berlin Veterans Memorial Committee, prepares to accept a gift from New Berlin Eisenhower and New Berlin West middle school students Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008, at the community-wide Veterans Day program, held at New Berlin Eisenhower High School. Veterans and active duty service members were recognized through songs and speeches presented by students, faculty members and community leaders. Next year's Veterans Day program will be held in the fieldhouse at New Berlin West High School.
Nikon D3, 200 mm, 4000 ISO, f2.8, 1/500, Manual
Danny Crane, a sophomore at New Berlin Eisenhower High School, plays, "Taps" Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008, during the community-wide Veterans Day program, held at New Berlin Eisenhower High School. Veterans and active duty service members were recognized through songs and speeches presented by students, faculty members and community leaders. Next year's Veterans Day program will be held in the fieldhouse at New Berlin West High School.
Nikon D3, 200 mm, 1000 ISO, f2.8, 1/800, Manual
A member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8171 salutes Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, during a Veterans Day Ceremony, held at ProHealth Care Regency, Muskego. Veterans and Regency residents gathered together to recognize and remember those who have served their country.