You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over. -Richard Branson
[one_half padding=”4px 10px 0 4px”]Photography has enough rules to choke a mule. There are rules about exposure. There are rules about depth of field. There are rules about framing and composition. There are rules about color, rules about black and white, and rules about mixing the two. Rules here, rules there, and there will always be that social media troll who wants to argue that you didn’t follow this rule or that, therefore your image is flawed. I have even seen student photographers carry around and religiously consult notebooks full of rules, making sure with each shot that they weren’t breaking any of the important ones. I don’t think any of those students ever actually made it as photographers.
While rules are certainly there for a reason, and the greater majority of the time actually do make sense, photography is not about rules. It can’t be. When photographers set out to only play by the rules, they get photos that may be technically correct but are emotionally lacking in anything resembling passion. Photographs without emotion are pointless. Why capture something that doesn’t make us feel, that doesn’t stir something inside us, that isn’t worth remembering? We take enough flak already from those who say photography is too automated, too reliant on technology, to be an art. If all we are doing is following the rules then we prove our critics right: the results are not art.
So we are devoting a full week of #POTD to breaking all the rules. Well, okay, we won’t have time to break all the rules. After all, there are only seven days in a week and just about any photographer can come up with at least ten rules that govern their specific style of shooting. So, I’ve chosen rules that I, personally, am likely to break most often; the ones where, for me, passion and creativity are more likely to outweigh the need to observe the rules. Young photographers, please note: when I break a rule, I almost always do so intentionally and with a specific purpose in mind. This isn’t arbitrary, except when it is. Totally.[/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”4px 4px 0 10px”]The obvious error in today’s image is the amount of blur, not just in the hoop, but the little girl as well. We talked about motion blur just a couple of days ago, so click the link and read that piece first if necessary. I won’t repeat much of it here. One can easily argue that the motion blur of the hoop is like the effect of water in a stream: the picture just wouldn’t look right without it. That part isn’t really breaking the rules. The question comes in whether I should have used a slightly faster shutter speed to stop the motion of the little girl. My answer, obviously, is no.
Children are, themselves, a constant blur of motion, especially when they are between the ages of two and three. I love being at the playground with Kat’s little ones and seeing all the motion, and with it an equal dose of emotion, coming from all these tiny creatures who are having the time of their lives. If children are so naturally given to motion, shouldn’t their photos reflect that reality? Sure, we can make them sit still momentarily for a portrait, but when one is trying so very hard to show me, with incredible amounts of pride, just how well she can hoop, just like momma, to not include the motion of her little body would have been absolutely criminal! She was gyrating so fervently as to involve every muscle she has.
So, we break the rules about motion and blur. We still managed to capture that look of determination on her face and all the colorful richness of that early summer morning. She’s framed well and the background isn’t overwhelming. We still have a very good picture. What’s most important, though, is we have a picture her mother cherishes. This little girl just finished kindergarten and is growing, as children tend to do, with more speed than a parent wants. She’s beautiful. She has a little sister now and I’m guessing by this time next year she’ll be trying to teach her how to hoop as well. Capturing the joy of these moments is more important than following a set of rules. [/one_half_last]