Thursday, February 25, 2010

Know the rules but be prepared to break them

I used to be a Photographic rebel. What do you mean there are rules for composition? It's my art." I thought that If I followed these rules my art would blend in w/ every one else's. This was pretty much my excuse for not knowing or understanding them. These rules are more like guidelines for producing images which are pleasing to the viewer's eyes, and are good to know. but there are no composition police out there (maybe vigilantes). So feel free to center your over exposed horizon diagonally across the frame w/ your subject moving or looking out of the frame. just ask your self does it make sense, why am I doing it.

So what are the rules and why do we follow them. Well there is really not a list. If you do a search on the web you are directed to sites w/ many rules five, ten, and six whatever. So you really need to try to understand as many as you can then pick and choose.



My favorite is the rule of thirds. Don't center your subject, horizon or anything pivotal in your composition. Place them either 1/3 up, down, left or right from center. I always consider a double thirds option where I place my subject where the vertical and horizontal thirds lines intersect. It doesn't always work but I consider it. Occasionally I ignore the thirds rule w/ mixed results. 1/3 is not set in stone just avoid the 1/2.

The Level Horizon. Horizons are naturally level that's the end of the story, therefore level horizons look better. I don't know why it took me so long to believe this. Of course you have mountains and city skylines that throw lumps in it, but it averages out. I am not great at doing this in camera, and I am not about to get out a level and measure. Fortunately I can get close and PS will do the rest.

Give your subject someplace to go. It just looks better when you do this. Use this rule in conjunction w/ the rule of thirds to make your moving subjects look as if they are not going to crash into the edge of the frame. You should also give your subjects someplace to look. Your subject should be looking into the frame not out.


K.I.S.S. Keep it simple s????? Separate your subject from an uncluttered background. Pay attention to all of the details in your shot. Because after you take it you will notice all of those annoying details that don't add to your shot.


There are numerous other rules you could follow, like the Something about odd something or other. Where you have an even number of accompanying objects w/ your subject (1 even # equals odd#) the golden proportions etc etc.

So I can't explain why I decide to break the rules but I do it by instinct, sometimes it works and sometimes I wish I hadn't.

So why do You break the rules?

1 comment:

  1. My take is that finding your own personal language in photography (as in any art form) implies breaking some rules. It's like creating your own accent out of a language that is universally ruled by laws of phonetics.
    I must say I'm yet to find my own accent and decide what rules to break, when and why. But when I do I'm sure the reason will be speaking my own language. Wouldn't really be art otherwise.

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