Breakin’ All the Rules
Posted May 2010
Photography has lots of rules. Generally speaking, the more of them you know, the better your photography will be. But once you know them, you can break them. That’s when photography gets really fun. Take a look at this photo. All sorts of fun rule breaking, but it works.
First, my all time favorite rules to break, tilting the horizon and cutting off his head… well technically his hat. Look how the tilt of the subject’s body gives motion to someone who is just standing there. The angle of the towers in the background makes them look cooler but, more importantly, it makes them mere background rather than part of the story. Another rule broken. The towers had nothing to do with the shot. They just looked neat. Seeing the top of the hat would give the sense of looking at the scene from outside. Cutting off the top makes it more intimate.
The next rule is put the subject to one side and face them into the middle. Oops. This framing sure does make it much more compelling though. It sort of makes you wonder where he is going or what is he looking at over there that’s making him smile so. The light is coming from behind making a strong shadow of his hat. Not conventional, but it really makes the hat, which is important to him, a bigger player in the shot.
The rules say make it an 8×10 or a 5×7, mostly because those are the sizes of paper available at the local one hour photo. This image is cropped to 14.333×5.65. So what do you do with something that size? If you’re just going to look at it electronically, your device will take care of it. If you’re going to print it, just fit it on standard paper and trim it, or use editing software to add black on top and bottom to make a standard size.
Now go out there and learn some rules. Then break them!
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