Sunday, July 21, 2013

Breaking the Rules...

Never put your subject in the middle of the frame.
Most people reason deductively much of the time and most photographers see that way...It's a closed process.  Seldom do we look sideways, that is, search for other premises or new beginnings.
- Freeman Patterson

   I really am enjoying my re-read of Patterson's book, Photography and the Art of Seeing.  I love his phrase "thinking sideways".  As contemplative photographers we are in a constant search for new ways to behold the world around us and Patterson's book gives us many useful suggestions.  Some may seem silly at first but the results can be stunning and very evocative.  More than the need to make a wonderful image, breaking the rules loosens up you thought process and allows new possibilities to enter.

Rule #1: Always hold the camera steady.
Breaking Rule #1: Jump up and down in the forest and press the shutter release as you jump.

   He encourages the photographer to be flexible...Taoists read that, "Go with the flow"!  He contrasts traditional thinking (I mind the cold weather so much, I don't think I'll make any pictures today.") with Sideways Thinking, (I mind the cold weather so much, I think I'll make pictures indoors today!)  When I was a teacher I took a sabbatical to study creative thinking.  I could have referenced Patterson's book in my report!  Seeing the world in traditional ways has its advantages but shaking it up a bit from time to time refreshes the mind.

   What are some of the ways you can shake up your photographic world?  What are some of the hard and fast "rules" you've learned that you can break?  Thinking creatively means letting go of past prejudices about what is the "right way" to photograph a subject...even what makes a good subject in the first place.  Patterson's book is full of wonderful and mind expanding ideas.  Go ahead, be a bit daring...forget the "rule of thirds" or not aiming your camera into the sun.  Think sideways!

   On of my favorite rules to break is: "Always carefully frame your subject."  Many of the images I have made of horses were done with the camera on auto and with no attempt to even look through the viewfinder.  I would just wave my arm at random and release the shutter at will. (A carrot waving in the other hand helps too!)  Many of the resulting images may be throwaways but every once in awhile something magical happens...


  We need both the stability of the traditional and the challenge of the new in order to cultivate order and tension in our photography.  That is the art of seeing.
- Freeman Patterson

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