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What's Your Worst Travel Photography Cliché?

by Paul Sullivan Jun 17, 2010
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NOTEBOOK Founding editor and Matador senior editor David Miller is what you could call a cliché-buster. His bullshit antenna is permanently set to “on.” He has been known spot a writing cliché from 400 yards, even if it’s all dressed up in a wig and fake facial hair.

David’s mission is simple. He wants to rid the travel writing “world” of torpid banalities and lifeless prosaisms. He wants to stop us writers being derivative and encourage us to be bold and honest, even if our brains are compelling us to believe that what we’ve heard or seen before must be what’s “right”.

The same thinking can, and should be – and sometimes is – applied to travel photography. Every photographer is influenced in some sense by the millions of images that have passed before their eyes. It’s truly difficult not to be swayed by the photographs that have impressed us most when we go out and find our own, but it’s a bit like mindlessly regurgitating phrases we’ve seen on the internet.

And yet we must resist. To be a successful travel writer or photographer it’s imperative to discover and promote your own original voice or vision, your own style. Trying to write like Jack Kerouac or shoot images like Steve McCurry will only make you a second rate version of those people.

In that spirit, I’d like to ask everyone to call out the worst travel photography clichés they can think of. Cheesy sunsets, overly familiar landscapes, people pushing over the leaning tower of Pisa. Let’s call ’em out, gather them up and burn them on David’s next bromide bonfire. *MatadorU’s curriculum goes beyond the typical travel writing class to help you progress in every aspect of your career as a travel journalist.

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