Forums > Photography Talk > Are blown-out photos the "new" style?

Photographer

M A S T E R S

Posts: 309

Murphys, California, US

I've been browsing numerous portfolios on many photographers' websites, and digesting different styles, posing, etc. I've noticed a common "theme" among many: blown-out photos. I don't mean just a few blown-out highlights here and there, but people missing facial features, half of their body, etc.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't have all the experience or technical knowledge in the world, but I personally see it as a flaw. Sure, in some photos, it produces a sort of "artsy" effect, but in people's faces? At first, I thought it was just the mom-with-camera wedding portfolios, but it seems to be prevalent in many professional portfolios as well.

So, my question is this: Have blown-out photos become a "new" style? Somewhat similar to the cliche, intentional lens flare?

Feb 15 13 11:59 am Link

Photographer

K E E L I N G

Posts: 39820

Peoria, Illinois, US

M A S T E R S wrote:
I've been browsing numerous portfolios on many photographers' websites, and digesting different styles, posing, etc. I've noticed a common "theme" among many: blown-out photos. I don't mean just a few blown-out highlights here and there, but people missing facial features, half of their body, etc.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't have all the experience or technical knowledge in the world, but I personally see it as a flaw. Sure, in some photos, it produces a sort of "artsy" effect, but in people's faces? At first, I thought it was just the mom-with-camera wedding portfolios, but it seems to be prevalent in many professional portfolios as well.

So, my question is this: Have blown-out photos become a "new" style? Somewhat similar to the cliche, intentional lens flare?

You have an example?  Just like anything else, if it's done well rules can be broken with fantastic results.

Feb 15 13 12:10 pm Link

Photographer

M A S T E R S

Posts: 309

Murphys, California, US

K E E L I N G wrote:
You have an example?  Just like anything else, if it's done well rules can be broken with fantastic results.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mONRApO_ … bxRQ4E7m40

The first few photos in the slideshow illustrate my point. In some of the later photos, I can see where it works well.

Feb 15 13 12:13 pm Link

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10308

Santa Ana, California, US

M A S T E R S wrote:
So, my question is this: Have blown-out photos become a "new" style? Somewhat similar to the cliche, intentional lens flare?

Don't know, but in your examples, it's pretty clearly not a positively contributing style, more a deficiency in lighting skill.

Feb 15 13 12:14 pm Link

Photographer

Veit Photo

Posts: 667

London, England, United Kingdom

I love impressionistic effects. They give the sense of being there. Sure, they fall into cliché if overused. You have to be sensitive to that in your work.

Feb 15 13 12:16 pm Link

Photographer

Velvet Paper Photo

Posts: 468

Lexington, Kentucky, US

Yes, it seems to be a new style.  Particularly with senior portraits, engagements & weddings.

Feb 15 13 12:16 pm Link

Photographer

Velvet Paper Photo

Posts: 468

Lexington, Kentucky, US

DP.

Feb 15 13 12:16 pm Link

Photographer

afplcc

Posts: 6000

Fairfax, Virginia, US

Just a guess but I suspect that what the OP may be referring to is some extreme examples of high key.  High Key is what's in vogue for a lot of fashion and portrait work these days.  Now in theory, high key shouldn't involve blownout highlights.  But effectively it's been used that way by a number of photographers.  Thus we get the added distinction of "hot white".

Ed

Feb 15 13 12:17 pm Link

Photographer

nyk fury

Posts: 2918

Port Townsend, Washington, US

M A S T E R S wrote:
So, my question is this: Have blown-out photos become a "new" style? Somewhat similar to the cliche, intentional lens flare?

yes indeed. THE new style. get with it! blowout everything!

Feb 15 13 12:23 pm Link

Photographer

M A S T E R S

Posts: 309

Murphys, California, US

nyk fury wrote:

yes indeed. THE new style. get with it! blowout everything!

It's just not for me.

Feb 15 13 12:25 pm Link

Photographer

David Kirk

Posts: 4501

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

M A S T E R S wrote:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mONRApO_ … bxRQ4E7m40

The first few photos in the slideshow illustrate my point. In some of the later photos, I can see where it works well.

While I have seen it done to very good effect, I agree with you that the first few photos in that video just look poorly done imho. 

It is similar to many of outdoor photos done with deliberate flare from the sun - it can be done well and really contribute to the mood of the photo, but is often be executed poorly and takes over the photo.

Feb 15 13 12:26 pm Link

Photographer

Tim Roper

Posts: 146

Palo Alto, California, US

If you really want to blow your mind with how great blown out photos can look, check out Lillian Bassman.  She was probably one of the "pioneers" of the blown-out look back in the 1950s, and continued working up 'til her death last year at age 94 (even working with photoshop!).

Feb 15 13 12:34 pm Link

Photographer

Evan Hiltunen

Posts: 3248

Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

I usually try not to blow out my images, but sometimes it just works. My avi for example (not that anyone would call it a "photograph").

Edit: and this one

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/26697359

has tons of detail blown out but, again, it works.

Feb 15 13 12:41 pm Link

guide forum

Photographer

GPS Studio Services

Posts: 36237

San Francisco, California, US

Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad and quite often they are done well but it looks like a cliche'

Feb 15 13 12:42 pm Link

Photographer

studio kgm inc

Posts: 727

Nashville, Tennessee, US

I'm a very technical photographer so when things blow out it drives me crazy.  But, I've started to loosen up a bit and recognize that sometimes when things blow out its nice.  same for shadows dropping to black.  it's ok to break the rules if it helps create a stronger image.

The examples you provided are probably someone not breaking the rules as much as not knowing them.

Feb 15 13 01:18 pm Link

Photographer

Raoul Isidro Images

Posts: 6281

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

M A S T E R S wrote:
So, my question is this: Have blown-out photos become a "new" style? Somewhat similar to the cliche, intentional lens flare?

When done in an outstanding artistic manner, conveying an image that has impact and attention, the use of the technique will be quite effective, one which advertising agencies are always looking for.

.

Feb 15 13 01:24 pm Link

Photographer

Gabby57

Posts: 423

Coppell, Texas, US

studio kgm inc wrote:
I'm a very technical photographer so when things blow out it drives me crazy.  But, I've started to loosen up a bit and recognize that sometimes when things blow out its nice.  same for shadows dropping to black.  it's ok to break the rules if it helps create a stronger image.

The examples you provided are probably someone not breaking the rules as much as not knowing them.

What we like and find acceptable is always a very subjective thing for sure.  Your post did make me realize a subconscious predisposition of mine though. While I rarely find blown out photos attractive, I've never had the same feeling about loss of detail in deep shadow, two sides of the same coin.  Thanks.

Feb 15 13 01:31 pm Link

Photographer

Mark Salo

Posts: 8374

Olney, Maryland, US

M A S T E R S wrote:
So, my question is this: Have blown-out photos become a "new" style? Somewhat similar to the cliche, intentional lens flare?

If you like it, make it your style.  See if your clients like it.

Feb 15 13 01:33 pm Link

Photographer

M Pandolfo Photography

Posts: 12116

Tampa, Florida, US

M A S T E R S wrote:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mONRApO_ … bxRQ4E7m40

The first few photos in the slideshow illustrate my point. In some of the later photos, I can see where it works well.

Well in that example video the technique is used to cover up the fact that the model in those first few frames (I couldn't make it any further) is about 57 years old, smokes, has a terrible complexion, and probably has 3 different Cesarian scars.

Feb 15 13 01:33 pm Link

Photographer

Dan OMell

Posts: 1335

Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia

the example isn't a style, is absolutely horrible, and looks to me almost like this:

http://digital-photography-school.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/flash-blown-out.jpg

a bit more reasonable example could be, for example, here:
http://www.studio-plus.fr/images/stories/high%20key%20portrait%20studio.jpg

Feb 15 13 01:39 pm Link

Photographer

ForeverFotos

Posts: 6644

Indianapolis, Indiana, US

I think I've found the original source of this "style".

http://images.waterfrontmedia.com/wte/cms/wte-community-landing-baby-camera.jpg

Feb 15 13 01:43 pm Link

Photographer

Darryl Varner

Posts: 725

San Jacinto, California, US

I don't believe this is a "new" style by any means. Technically imperfect images - including pronounced hot spots - have a long history; being used in Vogue and other fashion magazines at least as far back as the 1920s. There are some applications of photography that require technical perfection (scientific, etc). Otherwise, my opinion is to each his own. It's that sort of diversity that makes photography an art form rather than an industrial process. Personally, I don't think it works in the example the OP has shared, but that's just my POV.

Feb 15 13 02:00 pm Link

Photographer

M A S T E R S

Posts: 309

Murphys, California, US

Dan OMell wrote:
the example isn't a style, is absolutely horrible, and looks to me almost like this:

http://digital-photography-school.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/flash-blown-out.jpg

a bit more reasonable example could be, for example, here:
http://www.studio-plus.fr/images/stories/high%20key%20portrait%20studio.jpg

EXACTLY!

Feb 15 13 02:07 pm Link

Photographer

Beautifully Soft Focus

Posts: 529

Peoria, Illinois, US

It's a matter of style and def not a flaw ... give folks some credit. We know how to take pictures. In fact most cameras nowadays make it difficult to even take a washed out photo wink  My style is soft focus photography ... yet you'd  be surprised at how many know it all critics are so quick to chime in with comments like "great photo, except for the focus issues" ... makes a brother want to scream wink ... tack sharp is not the be all to end all! L et the folks shoot what they like ... we all have different taste.

Be easy,

Alvin

Feb 15 13 02:13 pm Link

Photographer

Jonathan sevilla

Posts: 61

National City, California, US

I think that it all depends on the eye and what people think looks good. Many people have no concept of what looks good. if a bunch of people that have no concept agree on liking a photo style, you then have a bad style turned trendy.   I do think that your selection of sample images stink.  Its just bad photography and bad lighting.

Feb 15 13 02:14 pm Link

Photographer

Light and Lens Studio

Posts: 1431

Sisters, Oregon, US

Dan OMell wrote:
the example isn't a style, is absolutely horrible, and looks to me almost like this:

http://digital-photography-school.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/flash-blown-out.jpg

a bit more reasonable example could be, for example, here:
http://www.studio-plus.fr/images/stories/high%20key%20portrait%20studio.jpg

The top photo (the bad example) is terribly done.  Unfortunately, some photographers don't move these to the trash where the belong.

The bottom photo is not a blown out photo at all.  It's a beautifully done High Key photo.  A well done high key image is a beautiful thing.   In a way, these are like comparing apples to horses.  But, in another way they illustrate the difference between high key and blown out, technically inferior images.

Feb 15 13 02:26 pm Link

Photographer

Michael Anthony

Posts: 2235

Glendale, California, US

Michael Pandolfo wrote:

Well in that example video the technique is used to cover up the fact that the model in those first few frames (I couldn't make it any further) is about 57 years old, smokes, has a terrible complexion, and probably has 3 different Cesarian scars.

that's what i was thinking too...

Feb 15 13 02:35 pm Link

Photographer

Winternetmedia

Posts: 6

Bristol, England, United Kingdom

Light and Lens Studio wrote:
In a way, these are like comparing apples to horses.

Or Burgers to horses.

Personally, I've found that without a calibrated screen it's all to easy to output rubbish.

But then some people have little excuse when the images look like the top one

Feb 15 13 07:42 pm Link

Photographer

Jon Macapodi

Posts: 289

New York, New York, US

I'm a huge fan of Kesler Tran's work. Creating and capturing an evocative aesthetic (in this case, one that incorporates imperfections and a sense of chaos) and is faaaar better than "correctly" metered, technically perfect, classically composed  images that come across as sterile.

Those images might appeal to me as a photography nerd, but they don't speak to my soul.

Feb 15 13 08:15 pm Link

Photographer

Caveman Creations

Posts: 580

Fort Worth, Texas, US

It may be some sort of a new trend. Kinda like editing your images to look all "Instagram"! I personally, just don't like High key unless it's done very well. I like shadows. I like the dark. But, to go along with this thread, my avatar is what I consider "over exposed". I had to blow her out a bit to get her skin that white, but I still maintained the shadows I wanted, so it's ok. It really all depends on how it's done, but no. I'm not one for blown out highlights. If it is a new trend, I hope it dies a quick and yet, painful, death. big_smile

Feb 15 13 09:14 pm Link

Photographer

PTPhotoUT

Posts: 1961

Salt Lake City, Utah, US

http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/100610/21/4c11b8c1de74f_m.jpg

This is what happened when my lens malfunctioned and did not stop down for the exposure.

Feb 15 13 09:22 pm Link

Photographer

Michael McGowan

Posts: 3652

Tucson, Arizona, US

It's the style again much as it was back in the 60s. Called "high key." Works for some stuff, not for others. It comes, it goes.

Feb 15 13 09:25 pm Link

Photographer

PTPhotoUT

Posts: 1961

Salt Lake City, Utah, US

MM DP, U got to luv it!

Feb 15 13 09:26 pm Link

Photographer

Images by Flap

Posts: 13

Cherry Hill, New Jersey, US

Caveman Creations wrote:
It may be some sort of a new trend. Kinda like editing your images to look all "Instagram"! I personally, just don't like High key unless it's done very well. I like shadows. I like the dark. But, to go along with this thread, my avatar is what I consider "over exposed". I had to blow her out a bit to get her skin that white, but I still maintained the shadows I wanted, so it's ok. It really all depends on how it's done, but no. I'm not one for blown out highlights. If it is a new trend, I hope it dies a quick and yet, painful, death. big_smile

God the instagram trend drives me nuts.

On certain images I believe you need to walk a fine line between getting great highlights and blowing out a picture. The further you push that boundary with blowing out an image and maintain the important structure in your photograph the stronger it can be. If you shoot in raw you can usually recover your highlights as long as there not to over exposed.

sometimes blown out highlights work and sometimes they don't. it is a trend I see especially in wedding photography paired with a shallow dof.

I would say try it for yourself and make it tasteful however you feel comfortable with it, it could only help your photography by expanding your horizons.

Feb 15 13 09:26 pm Link

Photographer

Caveman Creations

Posts: 580

Fort Worth, Texas, US

Images by Flap wrote:

God the instagram trend drives me nuts.

On certain images I believe you need to walk a fine line between getting great highlights and blowing out a picture. The further you push that boundary with blowing out an image and maintain the important structure in your photograph the stronger it can be. If you shoot in raw you can usually recover your highlights as long as there not to over exposed.

sometimes blown out highlights work and sometimes they don't. it is a trend I see especially in wedding photography paired with a shallow dof.

I would say try it for yourself and make it tasteful however you feel comfortable with it, it could only help your photography by expanding your horizons.

I'm with ya on the Instagram thing. I dunno, I'm more of a realist or something like that. As well as the rest of your statement, I agree. About the only real place I'm "Ok" with losing detail is in my shadows. Sometimes, I'll edit them up a bit, to retain that information, but I'm also ok with letting it go. It does bother me to loose information in the highlights though! wink

Feb 15 13 09:34 pm Link

Photographer

Viator Defessus Photos

Posts: 1116

College Station, Texas, US

nyk fury wrote:

yes indeed. THE new style. get with it! blowout everything!

All fine details must go?

Feb 15 13 09:51 pm Link

Photographer

TMA Photo and Retouch

Posts: 728

New York, New York, US

In the fashion world...they have to produce cash flow year after year.  If they have the same old fashions...then their cash drops...so they claim...yesterdays fashions are out of date...the new look is in...this is hot this year!

Same thing with photography and magazines.  We were once all trying to get perfect skin colors and tones, now its cross processing and color casts that are the new thing.  People got bored of seeing all skin look perfect and the same color...so we declared a change.

Is the blown out look hot this year...to some people it is.  They are the vanguards of change and newness for the rest of us...they pull us along kicking and screaming...and we eventually give in.

Do I really look good in dark, black, heavy eye glass frames that block out most of my face and make me look like a nerd.  NOPE.  Dont want their fashion trends...they really blew it by bringing back the 50's eye glasses...I hate the look.  But there are some newsayers...and not naysayers...that say I need the buddy holly look.

Are hot photos hot this year...NOPE.  Just someone experimenting at trying to be different and being happy at doing something different.  To me those white images looked a bit odd...but thats art... if enough people say it is.  Hey, I just buy the stuff...im not supposed to be able to have a say in whats hot this year.  Not me...THEY make those decisions for me!!  NOT.

Feb 15 13 09:52 pm Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/121119/06/50aa45dfca5f1_m.jpg












I don't know if it because I'm just an amateur, but I like a mixture of detail and lost detail, which is prevalent in my own images!

Feb 16 13 02:30 am Link

Photographer

Rebel Photo

Posts: 11446

Florence, South Carolina, US

new style? bad photography isn't a "style" it's just no skill set. All one has to do is look at the vast majority of photos of recent posted in this website.


Don't piss on my shoes and tell me it's raining.

Feb 16 13 03:39 am Link

Photographer

Jeff Fiore

Posts: 9224

Pelham, New York, US

Below is my example of a blown out image






















I feel it is slightly more overexposed than I would have liked it smile

Feb 16 13 04:27 am Link