Whenever I visit the bookstore, I find every photography book out there talks about rules, guidelines and recommendations for better photography. There’s really no motivation behind these books other than teaching you how to make better photos, and they suggest doing so by shooting “correctly” or using Photoshop, or more often a combination of the two. Follow their teachings and in no time, you will command photography like a real pro.
So what do we have? We have books about the “basic rules for better photography”, “tips for sharp photos”, “composition for better digital photos” and “understanding exposure”. These books will even teach you how “to see creatively”.
Just buy the book and you will see things you haven’t seen before.
But don’t be surprised, there are in fact many people who insist art doesn’t have any rules (I guess I must have just imagined all these books, articles, websites and lectures about “good photography”), however, after claiming there are no rules in photography, they will immediately say something like “anyway, great photographers make their own rules” and if they are really confused they will state that “good photographers just break the rules”.
When people talk about “no rules” in photography they often talk about breaking the rules. If you search Google for “no rules photography” other than getting links to my sites and books, the only other result you see is “no rules= breaking the rules”.
Breaking the rules of course demands that you actually learn the rules, and you’d better learn them well. Or else you might not break them correctly.
Give me a break! (pun intended)
By the way, just so we are clear, Rules are not always called Rules, in fact very often they are hiding behind lovely and less provoking words such as: guidelines, tips, instructions, fundamentals, principles, recommendations and so on.
So keep that in mind.
OK, rules or not, the question still stands: why shouldn’t you follow the rules? We all want to make better photos, right?
So why not learn the conventions to good composition?
In fact it seems the common theory is that beginners need a set of rules or at least some kind of uniformity and structure in order to learn the basics of photography and help them achieve that greatness in photography.
And just then, once they rank Master Photographers they can set out to the wonderful road of breaking the rules…
I tell you; sometimes I think I live in the twilight zone.
And I promise you I heard it so many times “good photographers make their own rules” that I will surely cry if I hear it once again.
Good photographers don’t make any rules, they just make good photos.
And let me say this: if one is going to learn photography from a book or from a teacher with an objective to follow someone else’s idea of what is good photography, they are less likely to take chances, dare or
come up with their own style and approach.
So yes, we all want to make great photos but we are more likely to find them if we trust
our own drive and creative intuition.