At turns humorous and absurd, heartfelt and searching, Photo No-Nos is for photographers of all levels wishing to avoid easy metaphors and to sharpen their visual communication skills.
Photographers often have unwritten lists of subjects they tell themselves not to shoot―things that are cliché, exploitative, derivative, sometimes even arbitrary. Photo No-Nos features ideas, stories, and anecdotes from many of the world’s most talented photographers and photography professionals on what not to photograph, along with an encyclopedic list of taboo subjects compiled from and illustrated by contributors.
Jason Fulford, who designed and edited the book, said it wasn’t easy to get photographers to articulate their taboos. On first hearing the prompt, many responded with an initial dislike for self-censorship, Fulford stating that in some respect: “what appears in the book are the stories of people who continue to struggle with the question of when to say ‘no’, ”. So to facilitate the answers, he decided to open the scope of the question. “I told the photographers that they could talk about images that seemed unethical to them, that they avoided in the past and not now, about scenes that someone told them they should never photograph, about subjects that they had already treated too much or about objects that they had never managed to portray satisfactorily for themselves, ”. In this way, the book was enriched, compiling a long list of more than a thousand terms, arranged alphabetically, that tell us about self-censorship, but also about the validity or not of the topics, the influence of racism, feminism or European colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Not a strict guide, but a series of meditations on “bad” pictures, Photo No-Nos covers a wide range of topics, from mannequins and TVs in motel rooms to issues of colonialism, stereotypes, and social responsibility. At a time when societies are reckoning with what and how to communicate through media and who has the right to do so, this book is a timely and thoughtful resource on what photographers consider to be off-limits and how they have contended with their own self-imposed rules without being paralyzed by them.