If you’ve mastered the basic skills of photography you have the capacity to produce some good images with a reasonable amount of creative flair. But it’s usually only through years of practice and experience that people are able to come up to a professional standard, although of course there are exceptions. One of the things you often hear in fine art is that high profile artists are/were ‘mavericks’, but there’s often another story going on in the background. The old adage, ‘learn the rules and then break them’ definitely rings true and it’s only once an artist understands a technique properly that they’re able to challenge it successfully. |
This most definitely applies to photography and some of our most iconic contemporary photographers have been rule breakers of the best kind. If you want to find out what rules they break, why they break them and even see them being broken in action, doing an online course with a Master is a wonderful way to see the mavericks at work! A Joel Meyerowitz course, for example, gives you an extraordinary insight into the working life of this renowned man. It’s like a one-to-one encounter, but in your own time and at your own pace. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a creative maverick, the online Joel Meyerowitz course will help you develop the skills to pull it off. Remember: you need to learn the rules before you break them.
Throw Out the Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is one of the most basic of all your compositional tools. By dividing your image into thirds vertically and horizontally, and placing compositional elements at the imaginary intersection points of these gridlines, an image becomes easier to view and much more pleasing to the eye. Fact. However, it’s not always desirable to have your image ‘comfortable’ for the viewer, so breaking this rule and experimenting by composing elements of your image outside these boundaries can result in some very striking effects. (This can also apply to the way you crop in post production.)
Whether you’ve chosen to use a shallow or deep depth of field, the norm is to strive for a pin-sharp focus where required. But deliberately blurring elements of an image (or, indeed, the entire thing) can create creative interest, suggesting movement or discord within the frame. In fact it can be quite tricky to achieve deliberate blurring and takes a bit of practice, particularly if you’re looking for just one element (a person, car or animal) to be blurred. But it’s a fun creative process to experiment with and can result in some really interesting images.
Ignore your Auto Focus
Auto focus can be an absolute game-changer, particularly in high-speed action situations or occasions that call for impeccable sharpness. But when you flick off the feature, you’re free to experiment with focus to your heart’s content. It’s a really useful creative exercise, even if you don’t particularly like any of the results, because it frees you up to start thinking outside the bounds of the ‘rules’ of what’s considered ‘good practice’. This ability to think on your feet and be prepared to work outside the square is imperative to developing your own creative path.
Of course, telling you what rules to break is almost akin to setting new ones, so the best way to see how far you can push yourself is to simply do it. Consider doing a Joel Meyerowitz course (or even a different one from your favourite Master) so you can learn the rules and then get out there and break them!
Adam Harper is a Photography Consultant at Masters of Photography. If you’re looking for courses from the world’s greatest photographers, they offer a Joel Meyerowitz course online as well as other excellent Masterclasses. Suitable for all levels, the courses provide lifetime access to easy to follow classes, allowing participants to learn valuable tips and tricks and take big steps to improve their photography. The online community affords the opportunity to find inspiration from both the Masters and fellow students.
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