Learn to understand the “rules” so you know when and how to break them
Photography is packed so full of “rules”. Well, they’re more like guidelines, really. But the “rules” seem to tear photographers up into two camps. The first wants everybody to strictly adhere to them and the second wants to shoot whatever and however they like. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, really, but the two are not mutually exclusive.
Some of the best images out there break the “rules” of photography. But as this video from Craig Roberts at e6 Vlogs explains, whether you choose to follow them or not, understanding them and why they exist can make for much greater impact when you choose to break them.
The thing that most people don’t understand is that the “rules” are generally designed for beginners. That’s why they’re mostly seen as guidelines. They’re the “safe” compositional suggestions that allow those new to the camera to get some images that they might be happy with. Images that they’ve put some thought and effort into that elevates them beyond the status of a mere snapshot. But once you really understand what those guidelines are trying to teach you, breaking them becomes second nature.
For those who try to shove the rules down everybody’s throat and judge whether or not a picture is good or bad based on whether or not it adheres to the “rule of thirds”… Well, those people just haven’t figured it out yet.
Which photography rules do you obey and which do you break? Do you even think about them when you shoot?
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.