No one’s ever made it too far by sticking to the rules. The difference between an amateur and a professional is that one is too afraid to try new things and complies to the standard rules. The later, on the other hand, will go to far extends to deliver something unusual. Every professional photographer has done this at least once. Unusual compositions risk the chances of being unsuccessful but not for those with a trained eye.
We’ve talked about the basic composition rules in photography and today we look at ways in which other photographers can break both composition and standard photography rules while still showing off their skills.
Going against the rule of thirds
Rule of thirds entails that you split your screen into thirds and place your subject at the intersecting lines, which allows the eye to grasp the photograph in a more aesthetically pleasing way. Guess what? You can place your subject dead center or off to the side with other surrounding elements and still come out with a great shot.
Fill the frame the wrong way
Filling the frame supposedly gets rid of distractions and makes sure your subject is the sole focus of the shot. To break this rule, don’t fill the frame like they taught you in art school. If you have background or foreground elements that are not competing with your subject for attention, use them! Simple backgrounds, negative space and such can also draw focus in a dramatic way.
Shooting into the light
One of the early lessons you learn in photography is that you have to always shoot with the light source behind you so that your subject is perfectly illuminated. You guessed it, it doesn’t always have to be this perfect. You can shoot into the light which will have the opposite effect. You can achieve quite a dramatic effect where you showcase the silhouette of your subject against an interesting background.
The unconventional tilt
Another important rule is keeping your camera horizontal to your subject. This is especially true for landscape photography. Don’t be lured to compose the perfect shot, tilt your camera and add some drama to the scene! It’s one way to show your audience an unexpected angle and make them question why photographers follow rules at all.
Obvious motion blur
Shaky camera is a big no-no in photography. However, if you’re moving your camera intentionally and with a purpose, it can create a beautiful sense of movement. To purposefully blur your subject, shoot a slower shutter speed. The trick is to keep one area of your image sharp so it’s not one big blur. If anyone questions you – it’s abstract art.
Taking advantage of midday sunlight
You’ve probably heard that the best time to shoot is during the early mornings and the time when the sun begins to set. Don’t fall it, some moments just can’t wait. The reason why this rule exists is to make sure you have nicer tones and long shadows. In reality, shooting when the sun is at it’s peak can give you some really crisp shadows and an interesting lighting setting.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the dangers of splitting your images into two identical halves. Don’t miss an opportunity to catch those lovely reflections. Slash your photographs in half; some photographers have opened up other worlds with this technique. An image like this has a lot of impact because of the simplicity. Additionally, you can edit those pictures as in the example below:
The limitations of manual mode
The reason why manual photography is prefered is because it gives you more control over things like lighting, depth of field and other details. When you’re in full control, apparently you produce better shots. Although this is true, it’s not a requirement for excellent photos. Sometimes you’re simply pressed for time. In those instances, change to auto and shoot in RAW so you can edit the images later.
You can always edit your pictures later (or not)
The last popular rule in photography is that you can edit your pictures later. Get out of this mindset and challenge yourself to get the perfect shot right away. Post processing is undoubtedly a photographer’s best weapon but you need to cut this dependency. This mindset can actually meddle with your decision making when you’re out shooting. If you get in the habit of taking excellent shots without the intend to ‘fix’ them later, you will find that your whole approach to your work will change overnight.
We’re not here to rebel. Rules in photography are actually helpful guidelines that initially help you learn about better composition and generally guide you through the learning phases. You’re all grown up now, you’re an amazing professional so perhaps it’s time to break some rules and make memorable pieces in the process. Learn the rules first, and then join everyone else in breaking them like a pro.