Break The Rules

If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.’ Katharine Hepburn

I know that Katharine Hepburn was not talking about photography when she said those words. Still, they do apply to photography, and photography has always had lots of rules. Because photography is the ‘Half-Blood Prince’ of science and art, rules were always going to have to be flexible. Science sets the physical boundaries, and art sets the creative boundaries of photography. Light, lenses, sensitised materials and how we process our images come from science. Composition, creativity, the use of colour or shades from black to white, and the emotional response we inspire in those who view our pictures come from art.

The picture you see above was inspired by the paintings of the old masters. Where they could paint the light anyway they chose to, I had to use light in a way that would allow me to give this picture that same feel. Understanding the science of light and how to modify it allowed me to do that. Laws of Physics determine how light acts, and we cannot change that. The way we use light in our pictures, within those limitations, is up to us. Once I had decided on how to light this scene, I could concentrate on the other creative aspects of creating this picture.

You have probably heard about the Rule of Thirds, which is a way to create a more pleasing composition. By dividing the frame into three equal parts, both vertically and horizontally, you get a grid made up of four lines. The Rule of Thirds states you should place your main subject on the intersection of two of those lines. I did not adhere to that rule, but I did come close. Another rule, The Rule of Odds, states you should always have an odd number of items in your pictures. There is one bowl, but that is as close to the rule as this picture gets. There are eight apricots in the bowl and two outside of it, making two groups of apricots. The rule suggests that both of these groups should have odd numbers and an odd number of groups. This composition still works even though both rules were ignored to some extent. Choosing which rules to obey and which to ignore is part of the fun of photography.

Tetbury Camera Club welcomes photographers of all levels. For more information about the club, please visit

This is an article I wrote for the Tetbury Camera Club that appeared in the December 2021 edition of the Tetbury Advertiser.

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