Monday, December 1, 2014

“To know the rules of photography” vs. “to break the rules”.

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
―  attributed to Dalai Lama XIV.


We want to have great images and here’s a question: what we must do - to obey the rules of photography or to break them?
As a starting point, we must know the rules of photography in the first place.
What does it mean - “to know”? There are several meanings of this verb including “to apprehend clearly and with certainty”, “to have fixed in the mind or memory”. So we must understand the rules clearly from theory, experience and practice, and learn them by heart.
So you have to know the rules before you can start taking photographs.
Can we ignore the rules? We can if it’s our choice and not our mistake.
You can list the rules and break them. When you see the result you’ll either find that you want to apply the rules or you’ll find your own style of photography.

Here’s the list of some important rules vs. the way to break them:


- hold the camera still / move during exposure;


- maximize depth of field with small apertures / limit depth of field with large apertures;


- search for interesting subjects / find something interesting in the ordinary things;


- shoot black and white in black and white regime / shoot in color and convert later;


- keep the horizon level / tilt the horizon;



- expose to create complete pictures / shoot fragments;


- follow the rule of thirds (1/3 to 2/3 or 2/3 to 1/3 sky to land) / vary your composition;


- don't place compositional elements directly in the center of an image / place them in the center;


- follow your light meter to get the correct exposure / overexpose and underexpose your photographs;


- shoot children and pets at their eye level / use both low and high level.


Ultimately you want to express emotions and ideas through your photographs, not your technical skills.

Let me remind Pablo Picasso’s words: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”