So Cliché: Shooting a Familiar Tune

In Inspiration, Mobile

You’ve probably noticed something familiar as you scroll through your instagram feed these days: the same photo popping up again and again regardless of who took it. Clouds, coffee, sunsets, pets, bathroom selfies, even macaroons. Yep. You guessed it; I’m talking about Instagram clichés. A type of imagery that has become so commonplace, well, you’re probably shooting them too! I know I am! Some of the most successful instagrammers have perfected the cliché so precisely, that we forget we’re seeing a cliché, and instead see an original work of art! Here are a few of my more recent transgressions by cliché category:

The Sunset Shot, guilty as charged, over 63 million and counting at #sunset:
I’m such a culprit, that I’ve even created my own hashtag for sunsets taken in my neighborhood: #sunsetinmanayunk I particularly love it when a real show-stopper rolls through my feed, and I see the same sunset from multiple perspectives.

Feet (on the Beach, #beachfeet), or in my case, feet in lake water:
This is a type of vacation shot that shows where we are right now. Typically, you’ll see feet on the beach, but there are plenty of other variations going around.

Pet Pictures, busted, #petsofinstagram:
The truth is, we can’t help ourselves. Animals are cute as hell, and who doesn’t want to see a happy, smiling furry face? I know I do. Here’s Roger; if you’ve got a pocketful of treats, he’ll pose all day long.

Coffee, any way you want to look at it, but in this case #coffeefromabove:
I never get bored when coffee comes across my screen, and judging by the profusion of coffee feeds on Instagram, everyone else loves to see it too!


Clouds, aka. #cloudporn:
Dramatic skies, puffy clouds – we can’t seem to help ourselves when we look up and see a beautiful view overhead, so of course, we shoot it. No cloudporn is not the porn you’re thinking of from sites like but I guess both could be equally as pleasing to the eye.

Flowers, guaranteed to pick you up, over 43 million to enjoy at #flowers:
I can’t seem to help myself when I pass by cheerful blooms, and I’m guessing you do too. Here’s one from the sunflower patch at my CSA!

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And then there are the trends that crossover into cliché territory. If you haven’t seen these on instagram, you’re bound to bump into them on tumblr and pinterest at an alarming rate! They’re the kind of shot that was love at first sight, until I saw it for the fifteenth million time it’s reared it’s lovely head. These are the kind of shots that make me wonder if my contacts have an original bone left in their body. Oh wait! Maybe I’m confusing them with myself, as you’ll see below:

Disembodied Hand Holding Something Against a Background, or in this case #flowersinhand:
I’ve seen a lot of these floating around and finally caved in and shot my own earlier this spring. Here’s my variation with my hand holding up the greens for my dinner salad.

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Overhead Legs Shot, not to be confused with groin gazing, but seriously, don’t try to find a hashtag for this one:
Or as one of my friends calls it, the crotch shot. I had no idea what she was talking about until she directed me to one, and I recognized it immediately. A few days later I couldn’t resist shooting my own and sending it to her for a laugh. Here’s my version with my dog Major. (Note to self: buy that selfie stick and hold legs slightly apart when shooting.) Typically, I’ll see this scene on white, rumpled sheets with pretty food, coffee or tea and a book or journal beside them. But seriously, nobody eats croissants with red jam in a white bed or they’d make a mess. It does makes for a beautiful photo though.

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Put a Succulent On It, or as I like to call it #succulentlove:
Oh, how I love this trend. Succulents, glorious succulents, are on the tip of everybody’s tongue, and if you’re going to show an overhead view of something, you’d better put a succulent in the picture. I have this trend sticks around for a while, even if it gets cliché. Just promise me one thing: you’ll take care for your plant even if it’s gone out of style!

Food from Above:
If there is one type of food shot I’m happy to see daily, it’s this one! If you’re interested in how this trend began, here’s a great article from Edith Young that will give you the scoop!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my personal take on these clichés and trends. Have you shot any of the same subjects too? Share your images in these well-loved styles at our hashtag #viewfindersio on Instagram, so we can see your take on these much photographed subjects too!

Holly ~ Soupatraveler


  1. I loved your take on these cliches Holly. It makes me want to go shoot my own today. I wish my Scout would pose like Roger. My daughter has perfected the disembodied hand shot. I could probably learn from her.

  2. a wonderful celebration of cliches! I never tire of them. the trends may be the same, but each photographer always brings their own interpretation. love these, Holly!

  3. Holly, great article.
    Love the picture of you and Major on the couch.
    I always wonder if you had to have treats for those gorgeous dogs:)( Major & Roger)

  4. This is so fun. Of course one of the reasons for cliche shots is they often have universal appeal, and these are some lovely examples.

  5. I think we are all guilty as charged! Sometimes, I like to shoot these just because it’s
    a) hard to resist b) tongue in cheek c) I’m gonna make it my own in someway or another

    Or darn it, it’s just fun to capture a really great sunset! 😉

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