Thursday, December 06, 2012
Rules? We Don't Need No Steenkeeng Rules!
Whenever I hear a photographer disparage "the rules," it usually tells me one or two things about them: 1) the person bad-mouthing the rules is either a new-ish or less-experienced photographer, and/or 2) the person is making excuses for the aesthetic quality of their work.
Picasso often defied the conventions of art but he knew when and how to defy them. He understood when and how to defy the rules because he knew and understood the rules. And he knew and understood them well. You know, like a pro.
These days, these digital days, it seems more than a few less-experienced photographers believe or subscribe to the notion that the rules are old fashioned, unimportant, are yesterday's rules, or they're simply not worth learning and practicing.
If you're a photographer who believes the rules are unimportant and not worth learning and practicing, you're flat-out wrong. Or, as the French politely say, "Au contraire, mon frère!"
It might be true that photographic prodigies occasionally come along and routinely snap killer images which often defy conventions, regularly break the rules, and seem to do so without said photographic prodigies having much understanding or knowledge of the rules and conventions, but the truth about photographic prodigies is that they are extremely rare and might even be mythical.
In my e-book, Zen and the Art of Portrait Photography, I devoted one of its twenty chapters to rule-breaking or, what it's sometimes called, "Shooting Outside the Box." In it, I don't come down on rule-breaking or shooting OTB. In fact, I endorse it... but with a few caveats about learning the rules before breaking them and having plenty of knowledge about that "box" some people might think they're shooting "outside of."
One of the most important elements of rule-breaking, leastwise successful rule-breaking, is knowing when and how to break the rules effectively or artistically. The only way you're going to do that, as Picasso tells us, is by learning the rules (like a pro) and then breaking them. (Like an artist.)
The gratuitous eye-candy at the top is Yurizan from one of my twice-weekly, 5-minute-session gigs I've been shooting and that I've recently written about. (Click image to enlarge.) No rules broken by the photo. It's not an outside-the-box image. It's simply a decent pic of a hot and sexy woman. And I'm all about photos of hot 'n sexy women! And yes, they're real.