Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Find Your Eye Photo Journal - Rules

I’m just beginning the second portion of Find Your Eye: Journey of Recognition class with KatEye View. In our last class she had us start a photo journal. Our lesson this week is to think about the rules of photography that influence our photos and then consider whether these rules might be limiting us.

As I started this journey into photography that involved more than just snapshots of family events, vacations and just general pictures, I began looking for rules to help me take better photos. I needed guidance and concrete guidelines that would make my photos better. These rules have been very helpful to me. Then, I began to realize that these rules are not laws. There is no reason I can’t break a rule if it's not working for me all the time.

I thought about composition rules. There are several but I’ll just touch on a couple. Until I stared reading about photography I had never heard of “the rule of thirds.” It is the hardest rule for me to remember when I’m taking photos. I have always taken photos with the subject dead center. People and objects just should be centered too me. Also, that’s where the focus symbol is…in the dead center!! I know you could push the button halfway down and still keep the focus on the object, but that doesn’t come natural to me. I’m still struggling with moving the camera around until the subject is in the thirds sections. Don’t misunderstand, I know this is a pleasing way to compose a picture and has really made many of my photos better. I’ve just begun to realize though that every one of my shots do not have to follow this rule! If the photo pleases me, then I really can ignore the rule. Sometimes things are just better plopped in the very center just because it works. In the photo below the object is centered and I like it that way!!

I only had to post about one rule for the class, but as I was thinking about rules this one came to mind, that you have to strive for perfect focus. No, not necessarily. I can break this rule, too, and still have a pleasing photo.  In a photo group I belong to, we were prompted to take a picture out of focus to make it like a watercolor painting or to make it dreamy. Out of focus!! Surely not!! I’m just learning how to focus my camera manually and now I'm supposes to unfocus it on purpose!! But, I tried it, and it worked!  I truly loved the photo I took. It has become of my very favorites. Who would have thought, you could break a hard fast rule like that!

And lastly, I've been thinking of how I influence my own photographs. I feel guilty about the fact that I mostly take pictures of nature. I started out wanting to improve the photos of my grandsons for scrapbooking, but I drifted in to a whole other area, nature. I honestly do not take good pictures of people. But, I expect myself to. Surely, if I could take a beautiful macro shot of a seedpod I could take a beautiful photo of a person. Not So!! I do sometimes get really great photos of the boys. But, I'm just more comfortable clicking the shutter and capturing the moment that will be gone in an instant and not worrying so much about rules. I see others who are able to take such precious photos of children and I feel disappointed in myself. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm still learning and I can keep working on this. Below is an example of no rules followed, just get that genuine smile!!  Very hard to do when he's eight!!

Rules are great, but, sometimes beauty is found by breaking a few rules.


  1. Cathy - keep breaking the rules! I empathize completely on the subject of people photography. Thus far, I have been widly unsuccessful in my attempts to capture things that move - like my grandson. I think we just have to keep trying and learning. And in the meantime, not feel guilty at all for taking images of the things we love.

  2. Cathy, I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one who didn't know the rule of thirds!!!

    Isn't it interesting that once we know a "rule" we might have a hard time breaking it? Personally I'm getting better about putting subjects a little off center now, but I really understand that mode of just putting it/them in the center.

    You've given me lots of food for thought here. The last photo here is fabulous - casual, life as it is, a lesson in how to 'capture' that 8 year old.

  3. I'm with you on the nature/people thing. I find that I take and enjoy nature photographs much better, and they are the ones that inspire me, portraiture just doesn't cut it for me, and I can't do it well either. I find that my snaps of the family end up as just that, snapshots with very little outstanding about them.

    Rules are difficult. I've spent the last year learning about composition rules and while I like rule of thirds, I know that the one I use most often, esp in nature photography is filling the frame, I just love to get all those tiny details in close up! Interesting to think about limitations. I'm not doing this course as it wasn't possible, but it sounds like you are getting a lot from it.

  4. I am so glad that you are feeling better about breaking the rules! We are taught to follow the rules to be successful, but that is not always the case with artistic pursuits. I really identify with you on the subject quandary. My interest in photography really started around people, but it takes a lot of practice and effort to get that right. When I couldn't find enough people who were willing to have their picture taken do that I could learn more about photography, I started in on other subjects and WOW - did I find things that inspired me way more. I think learning on what inspires you (nature) will help you with your grandsons too as your image points out. And getting a natural expression out of an 8 year old is a huge challenge, so I'm impressed with your accomplishment.

  5. whoa... oh, but you CAN take pictures of kids!
    But, I know what you are saying - your skills don't produce a product that is consistent as the standards you reach when taking your "safety pictures" (nature, details, etc)
    I feel like you were watching over my shoulder as I was trying to put my thoughts into words. We have some of the same rules that prevent us from being as creative as we might be if we tossed those self-imposed rules by the side of the road.
    I love your purple flower... oh! la! la!

  6. Enjoyed reading your reflections about rules. I also prefer taking photos of stationary objects that don't move, but have been trying to capture some good images of my toddler grandson, which is a real challenge! Practice, practice, practice! I love your "out of focus" shot!

  7. I agree with you that knowing the rules is important in terms of providing a foundation for your photography but, as you point out, they really are only guidelines that can and should be broken in order to capture your creative vision. And, BTW, I love your out of focus photo. It is just beautiful!


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