The “rules” of composition are always a hot and divisive topic. Some stick to them adamantly while others act like they don’t exist (or they don’t know any exist). The former can be difficult to break away from and the latter can be very freeing, allowing you to explore all kinds of composition ideas in your work.
In this video, Sean Tucker talks about going beyond the rules and how his photography has been guided mostly by intuition. He breaks down some of his own images and why they work. He covers a lot of topics that aren’t really mentioned at all in the usually accepted rules and how they can make the viewer feel when looking at an image.
It’s a very insightful look into composition and approaching it from a different angle than we might typically tackle it. It still helps to know the rules, so you can understand why they exist, but eventually, you have to get to a point where you break free from the rules and learn to think for yourself if you want to improve. You’ll shoot a lot of bad stuff while you’re experimenting, but how will you figure out what does work if you don’t find out what doesn’t, too?
For me, for the most part, I’ve largely ignored the “rules” of composition the last few years. Some of my images may adhere to one rule or another but it’s usually a coincidence. The rules aren’t something I’m actively thinking about when I shoot. At least, not for my own personal photography. Let yourself be driven by your feeling and intuition. Actually look at the image your camera sees. The whole image. What story does it tell?
Ultimately, there’s no real right or wrong way to approach composing a shot, especially if you’re just shooting for yourself. As long as you’re happy with it, that’s all that matters.
But if you find yourself hitting compositional walls… Let go your conscious self and act on instinct!