"Capturing Life"

Rules: Why would I care about them?

Who out there dislikes rules?  I’m raising my hand with you, even though my kids would be aghast that I would say I didn’t like rules.  After all, we have had a lot of rules while raising them.  Admittedly, some of those rules were really illogical ones and, as in everything, some of them were just made to be broken.  The same thing goes with photography.

I’m currently teaching a Photography 101 class at our homeschool co-op.  A couple of weeks ago we talked about the rules of photography, most notably the Rule of Thirds.  In the rule of thirds, you basically take what you see through the viewfinder and divide it into horizontal and vertical thirds lines.  Wherever those thirds lines intersect is considered to be a “sweet spot”, composition wise.  Frequently, that rule helps an otherwise mundane photograph become a more pleasing one.  It assists in drawing the viewers eyes to the subject.  Rules are made to be broken.

I clearly state that I am certainly no photography expert.  I’m very rough around the edges, some of it due to lack of knowledge and some of it just because that’s the way I am.  I like being rough around the edges, for the most part, but at the same time I prefer not to appear as if I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.  Interesting dichotomy, liking my lack of knowledge yet not liking to be caught in it.  Maybe it’s because when you lack knowledge, you can go on your merry way just happy to be doing whatever it is you’re doing.   When you’re caught in ignorance, though, you have no choice but to look, well, stupid!

So why do I worry about the rules of photography?  Most of the time I don’t.  That being said, one of the things I learned while doing my 365 project was that there is a time for rules and then there is a time to break them.  When I employed the rules, I found that my body of work improved.   When I learned how to break the rules more effectively, my body of work improved.  It’s a win/win scenario!

Do I still follow the rules?  Yeah, I’ve got to be  honest that I do still consider the rules and try to abide by them.  There are days, however, that it just feels good to be a rebel, to step out and take pictures my own way, regardless of what all the perfect rule followers will think.

Just don’t tell my kids it’s a good thing to break the rules because, unlike photography, their breaking the rules more frequently has an unsatisfactory ending.


One response

  1. Wayne

    I agree, it’s important to understand the “rules” of composition, but at the same time, it’s good to sometimes break the rules. I think the football shot breaks the rules with the centered referee…but at the same time, it follows the rules. The line of football players in white is aligned on the 1/3 line in the overall frame….and using the players as a boundary, the referee is aligned on a 1/3 line in the subset of the frame. So, while it seems like you’re violating the rule of thirds, you’re really following the rule….just in a more subtle, less obvious way.

    October 5, 2011 at 9:14 pm

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