Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rules are Meant to be Broken

In our thought provoking E-course, Finding Your Eye, hard questions are posed. Today's was particularly soul stretching. 

What photography rules do I live by and are there any I can discard or renegotiate?

Since age 9 or so, I have taken photographs...from ants to antelope; seeds to sunsets; buds to trees, swimming pool to ski slopes. I had NO rules, just sheer freedom....YET!

Today, decades later, I consider myself  first a painter, next amateur writer, and last, truly amateur photographer. But something has happened: photography has crept up on me like a warm woolen blanket, and I find it a cozy place to be. I won't be surprised if someday I will reorder my list.  

Once I realized that I seriously wanted to 'learn' and to 'understand' photography my sister purchased me a very nice camera...way too much of a camera for someone like me. But I was thrilled and intimidated all rolled into one!  An expensive visit to Amazon,  ordering books that would surely TEACH me how to WORK this Big Mama, and  E courses that were never completed due to exterminating circumstances, suddenly found me besieged with information and words I had no idea what they meant: bokeh (I thought must be what you were AFTER you bought all this equipment!),  F-stop, aperture; manual, auto focus vs manual focus, DOF, metering, light sensors, numbers numbers numbers...I am allergic to numbers. I was on a fast train heading SOUTH.  

Self Imposed Rule # 1: if I read it. if I heard it. if I was taught it-- It was true and I had to LEARN "IT" FAST.   I couldn't begin to photograph anything if I didn't learn all the RULES and TECHNIQUES first

Breaking Rule #1: I had a choice to make, either break some of the self imposed rules or give up this dream of  photography. I determined that I do not have to conform to what a blog, photographer or text book author tells me.  I will study and explore but I will call the 'shots.'  Half  my photos out of focus, CALL it creativity. If subject matter is dead center, call it neat and tidy. If I cut off someone's head a new perspective on shooting pants and shoes.

I shall  learn by going BEHIND the rule not literally following the RULE. I will fall back on my years of work as a painter and apply what I learned from that medium to my camera. If it takes five more years to conquer all those f stops, so be it.
No one is going to care. 
No one is going to worry.  There is no competition.

I have another Self Imposed Rule, but I will save it for another post, besides it is a bit personal. But for today breaking Rule #1 is liberating.....and a lot for me to grasp.


  1. Breaking the rules is the first step toward creative freedom. So glad you were able to find that!

  2. You really got it here: "No one is going to care. No one is going to worry. There is no competition." Art and photography, in my mind, is first and foremost about us creating and enjoying the process. You don't have to believe and follow everything you hear. I believe that we learn and grow over time, as we are ready. All of your painting experience really helps you in fantastic ways, I'm happy you are using it and filling in the rest of the info as you go. Wonderful post and insight. Thank you for sharing it!

  3. I love that first image, it's funny and you really caught the essence. I did the same thing you did, decided I need books and courses to learn all the technical stuff.

  4. I too have a stack of photography books & have bookmarked some photography websites... I've decided they are fun to look at, read about, but unless someone shows me how to "do" something with my camera, I think my photos are just going to be "hit or miss"... as Kat has mentioned, we have to be comfortable with the way we take pictures! I'm realizing a lot of photographers are a bit like me... I'm not alone in this creative journey!


Thank you for taking your time to drop by and leave a note. Warmly, Sharon