In Photography, there are a lot of rules, especially in portraiture. I used to be a strict rule follower. Never crop her at her feet! Place her at the exact thirds of the picture! Make sure her eyes are above the upper thirds! Make sure to get that catch light in her eyes! And so on.
Even though I followed those rules, I noticed pros who I admire rarely followed them. I began to realize that the rules weren’t always to be followed. In fact, if the content is solid, the rules don’t matter. They’re minor distractions.
Before, I would critique other photos based on those rules. I now cringe at the stuff I said. Nitpicking photos on those rules isn’t constructive. It’s just an ego booster. But that’s another post.
Other clueless photographers critiqued me with those nitpicky rules as well. Over time, no matter how perfect I try to make the photo, someone has something irrelevant to say to boost their ego. I got tired of it and decided to just break the rules.
You Can’t Have Shadows In the Eyes, That is Unflattering
A common rule in portraiture is to have catchlight in the eyes. That is supposed bring soul and life into the eyes. In fact, they hate shadows in eyes. They say it make women look unflattering. These girls look ugly don’t they?
You Must Always Point the Face Towards the Light
In addition to the rule above, you should just have the model face the light. These images below are crappy since the light isn’t shone on the face.
Don’t Crop At Fingers, Toes, Feet, Under Elbows, Tip of Heads, etc.
We all know the proper body cropping rules. Don’t chop off the limbs. But this is the rule that all top photographers break.
Honestly, if you control the contrast at the crop, it isn’t as bad. Also if the brightest part of the image draws the eyes away from the crop, it’s okay too. Heck some top photographers blatantly do it. It’s like they don’t even know about this rule.
So here are my crappy images since I break cropping rules:
The Eyes Must Be Razor Sharp
The eyes are the soul. You must focus on them and have them razor sharp.
I used to follow this rule pretty religiously. Lately, I’ve been lazy about keeping this rule. One reason is because I have heard one photographer blurs his pics! You don’t need to have a super sharp picture. Would my pictures be any better if the eyes were razor sharp?
As you can see, some of these break more than 1 rule. These aren’t the best photos I’ve taken. But I don’t think they’re that bad. Would they’ve been better if I followed the rules? I don’t know. Maybe.
Also, I know there are photographers out there reading this post cringing at my photos above. Oh well, I can’t win them all.
I’m not saying we should not follow the rules. I try to follow them most of the time. In fact, getting a good photo becomes easier when you follow the rules. However, I will break them when it requires me to have the right expression, feeling, and emotion at that moment.