No Rules In Art

A short piece by Denise on going beyond Rule of Thirds. And she’s right, the Rule shouldn’t be treated as a rule. It’s one tool in the toolbox, like leading lines, foreground/background or juxtaposition.

All these tools can be jumping off points. But in art, it’s better if rules aren’t followed earnestly. The tool doesn’t “make” a good photo, the eye does. Put another way, if you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

So I like to stay open before I start hammering. Take in the scene and see what comes out — what are the key visual elements, where’s the light going, what does the location tell you. And even if I’ve started with a simple Rule of Thirds framework, it’s just a choice to capture the moment which may lead me to a fuller concept — like Denise, based more on a feeling or sense of rightness.

Shop talk. Denise also shared some of her photos and they’re worth a look. There were two in particular that caught my eye.

Denise Bush's Photo Blog

Comments at a recent art show referring to the ‘rule of thirds’ have me thinking a lot about composition. In my humble opinion the ‘rule of thirds’ is simply one ‘formula’, not deserving of so much attention or strict adherence. After all, there are many other formulas for composition such as the golden ratio, the golden spiral, the triangle and yes … centered. Centered, symmetric compositions can invoke a peaceful, balanced feeling and are sometimes the best solution. A centered subject with an off-centered element often works for me. I like to consider all of the elements in a composition … how are they juxtaposed? Some of my favorite images break the bounds of traditional composition rules. In landscape photography I’m drawn to images with a very low or very high horizon. And I don’t believe we need a foreground element every time. If I don’t find an interesting enough…

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