Sunday, April 29, 2012

Photographic Rules -- Are they really important?

This blog post is more of a philosophical debate rather than a list of rules. In fact the photographic rules are not really rules but guidelines.

Stack of BooksThe topic came up when I was looking at some photographs I had clicked recently at a wedding and was discussing with my sister if they were appealing or not. There were some photos I liked a lot because it was technically correct, it followed a lot of composition rules but the image just did not work. There were others where I did not follow a lot of rules of photography and the image worked. It was visually appealing and brought a smile on the person seeing the image. This got us debating whether rules are really important. Though she is not a photographer my sister does  make her living working in the field of visual arts.

That inspired this blog post... At the start of my photographic journey I heard a very interesting quote, I am paraphrasing here and it went something like this, "You get paid to follow the rules, paid even more to bend the rules and paid the most to break the rules of photography" now the speaker went on to add that you need to know the rules first before you start bending them and then breaking them, but, it does get the mind thinking. Before you think that this person was not a good photographer, let me just add that this person was a Cannon Explorer of light. (So he knew what he was talking about)

I don't know if I have reached a stage where I can start bending the rules, leave alone breaking them, but, from experience I can say that when I started out following the rules did help. At the start I was more of a spray and pray photographer, as time has gone on I have become a very selective and really slow photographer especially when it comes to landscape photography. With people I have got to a point where I now click less and have more keepers than before. It has saved a lot of hard disk space for me and reduced the time I spend on the editing table. 

So I guess the take away is, if you are just starting out as a photographer following the rules will more likely result visually appealing images. Once you master the rules, you can pick and choose which rule to follow at a given situation. (At any given time there can be more that one rule which may be applied when making an image.) Once you pass that stage you can start breaking the rules to make interesting imagery. To get to that point you need to press the shutter a lot of times and study the images which worked and did not work. Happy  Clicking