Archivi categoria: rules

Perfectionism vs Creativity: Letting Go of the Need to Conform

“Perfect photographs do not move the heart.”
– David DuChemin, The Vision Driven Photographer

This is one of my favourite photography quotes, in fact one of my favourite quotes generally.

Now I’m not for one moment saying that this photograph will move anyone’s heart. But I am saying that it’s not perfect. It’s hazy and it’s soft, I’m not sure that any of it is in focus. Technically it’s really not good.

Some people will hate it but I’m okay with that.

Or at least I’m fairly okay with that. I took this photo for no-one other than myself. There’s no paying client, no need for me to conform to any so called “rules” of photography. It’s more or less what I was aiming to create. I say more or less because I only ever have a vague idea in my mind so nothing can be exactly what I aimed for—but soft, hazy, blurred, haunting were all words carried in my mind at the time.

Still, there’s a tiny doubt in my mind that stops me sharing this image on the day it was created. It needs to sit a while, I need to come back and look at it several times. I need to stop looking at it. Then I need to come back a few days later and look again. And maybe then I’ll be ready to share. Maybe then I will have decided that I’m happy enough with it not to really care whether it’s well-received or not.

Because I know some people will hate this photo. They won’t like that it’s not in focus, they will wonder why I’m happy to lose all the shadow detail, they’ll be dying to point out that there aren’t really any catch lights in the eyes and don’t I know that the light bit on the background wall is distracting.

So today I’m finally ready to say I don’t care. I know the rules. I know where I’ve broken the rules. But I don’t care. I can play by the rules but sometimes I just don’t want to.

How did a creative art form end up so bound up in its own rules that we all feel an ingrained need to comply with them? How did we come to value perfectionism above creative expression?

I have a question for you…

What if you let go of the need to conform, what if you didn’t worry about blown highlights, shadows that are too dark, images that aren’t pin sharp zoomed right in? What if all the rules no longer applied and you were free to express yourself without constraint?

What would you create?

About the author: Janet Broughton is a UK-based photographer, blogger, and copywriter. You can find more of her work on her website, or by following her on Facebook and Instagram. This post was also published here.

World Press Photo to Debut New Photo Contest With No Rules


The prestigious World Press Photo contest has been tarnished in recent years by findings of inappropriate staging and digital manipulation of photos. So, the organizers have come up with a solution: there will soon be a new separate contest that does away with all the rules.

World Press Photo announced today that starting in October 2017, there will be a brand new contest for “creative documentary photography” (the official name has yet to be finalized).

Unlike the organization’s traditional contest for photojournalists, which disqualified 20% of finalists last year and subsequently implemented a Code of Ethics, the new contest won’t be bound by journalism ethics.

“This contest will be for professional visual storytellers who, in wanting to communicate about actual people, events or issues, deploy creative techniques in constructing, processing and presenting images,” World Press Photo says. “This contest will not have rules limiting how images are produced, and will not have categories.”

Photographers will be able to submit single photos or a series of photos that comprise a story. Judges will review the photos and hand out a number of different awards for things like social documentary, personal documentary, alternative imaging, innovative presentation” and more.

This latest move is World Press Photo’s answer to the ongoing debate regarding photography and photojournalism standards in the age of digital photography. The Australian Professional Photography Awards was at the center of this debate recently after prominent photographer Ken Duncan called out the contest for selecting a set of photo illustrations as this year’s winners.

If the World Press Photo’s new rule-free contest gains prominence in the industry, perhaps it will pave the way for other prestigious contest to follow suit.

Ignoring the Rule of Thirds: When and Why ‘Bad’ Composition Works

For many advanced photographers, the rule of thirds is seen as something of a beginner’s trope or amateur construct, but learning how, why, and when to break it can be a challenge. This short episode of Brain Flick helps deconstruct that question and explain why and when “bad” compositions work.

To be clear, not every photo or video that doesn’t conform to the rule of thirds (or the golden ratio, or symmetry, or contains leading lines, or, or, or…) is a “bad” photo. But some images, often those that break with the traditional rules, can feel aimless or awkward or just plain make the viewer uncomfortable.


So why do some of these images/scenes “work” in photography/cinematography, while others feel amateurish and uninspired. That’s the question Brain Flick tackled in a video uploaded almost a year ago that’s making the rounds once more today.

Using the show Mr. Robot as an example, the show explains how the DP actually amplifies the show’s message by breaking the rules though “extreme” framing.

It’s a very interesting breakdown of unusual compositions with some psychology thrown in for fun, but even if you don’t agree with all of the assertions made in the video, one little piece of wisdom from the beginning is well worth paying attention to: there is no hard scientific evidence that the Rule of Thirds actually IS pleasing to the eye… remember that the next time you’re framing up a shot.

(via DIYP)