Rules are stupid. As a photographer, there are all sorts of rules for how to take care of my gear or rules of portraiture or composition or lighting. These are important, but just like in everything else, rules of photography are meant to be broken.
Today, I was at a flea market where a vendor was selling a canon 18-55 II EF-S lens, among other interesting photography things. I knew this lens was worth around $50 street, but he was only asking for $10, so I was examining it to make sure it was in working order. Being the owner of a Canon 10D, I knew it wasn’t mountable on my camera (EF-S lenses are no-no’s on the 10D), but the more I examined the lens, the more I realized that I could easily hack part of the back off, and it would at least fit onto the mounting plate.
So today, that’s what I did, and you know what? The lens works perfectly. Its electronics connect to the camera perfectly, it sits nice and flush on the mounting plate, and above all, it autofocuses just fine. For $10 and a little man power, I have a general purpose lens that, if nothing else, I can use the wide end for landscapes (something I’ve been missing out on, since I only have a 50mm for the 10D).
Today I broke a rule, and it was nice, and it was met with a small victory. It may not be the prettiest thing in the world, but making something useful gave me a good feeling.
There are rules you should follow, but don’t follow them blindly. The rule of thirds is a thing, but dear god if everything was offset and divided on a trigent, we’d be aching for a point of interest to just be in the center for once. If everything was perfectly exposed all the time, how would we know how amazing the aesthetic of pushed or pulled film was?
Here’s a quick adaptation of this idea:
I’ve taught myself to take a photograph once, even before I check and re-check my settings and composition and focus, and then again after. That way, no matter what happens between the time that it takes to check all of this, I’ll have a photo of that moment when I saw the image. If it’s underexposed, I’ll do my best to fix that in Lightroom, or I’ll fix the straight lines with a crop, but I’ll have something.
And sometimes, all it takes is a little faith in my own skill that even though I didn’t check and re-check all of these things, I know I got the exposure I wanted, and that one day it’ll be the photograph I saw in my mind.
My advice? Break a rule. Don’t be so stiff in photography. I’m not saying follow the Lomo Rules, or only shoot from a hip (or other body part) or break every rule there is. I’m saying break one, and see what happens. Work outside your comfort zone.
Shoot a wide angle portrait (trust me, it feels so good).
Take a telephoto landscape.
Do a portrait session with a llama (ok I haven’t done this one yet, but it’s on my list).
Above all, don’t let your photography become stale. Break a rule or two, no one’s watching.