TLDR. Yes. If you let them overrule your conscious thinking.
First, a distinction :
A rule is meant to be obeyed.
A recipe is a set of steps to be followed to obtain a result that falls within acceptable distance of ideal.
Armies follow rules. Chefs adapt recipes.
It’s up to you to decide how you want to live your creative life.
Secondly, how valid is a repice / rule / recommendation that’s made out of context and doesn’t clearly state its purpose?
“You will sleep no more than 4 hours a night” is a great rule if I want to deprive you of all ability to think for yourself or challenge my decisions. It may not be quite so great if you’re an artist trying to think creatively.
So pre-dawn and golden hour are a recipe. In the hands of a talented photographer who understands why they exist, they can lead to wonderful results.
They can not be considered general rules, though.
It’s commonly believed that photographs made before the sun is up are better. Which is, obviously, utter rubbish. Name one memorable photograph from any of the influential photographers that was made before sunrise. I’ll name 20 that weren’t.
Photographing before sunrise is just easier. The lower dynamic range makes the final image more predictable and golden rays will add a warm fuzzy feeling to an otherwise boring photograph.
But what if I prefer my photographs to look like the one above or below ? Clouds are another great way of keeping dynamic range in check. Yet most togs pack it up when rain comes in.
And what’s wrong with high dynamic range scenes ? Is Daido Moriyama to be denied his high contrast ?
Although we are diurnal animals, we have somehow developed a craving for that nocturnal fantasy look that comes with predawn shooting. And some superb imagery has been achieved by that school of thought, though I wonder whether it isn’t simply more by virtue of statistical likelihood (everybody’s doing it) than by the actual merit of the method.
If the warm purity of a spring sunrise is an important part of the story you are telling, then by all means, set the alarm to sparrow on a crystalline April morning. Otherwise, why not consider alternative lighting that might better suit your mood or intentions ?
Ditto the rule of thirds. Please don’t forget the ‘h’.
Where do I start with the questions ?
Isn’t it ever nice when the subject is centered ?
What do I put in all the rest of the frame if I move my subject to the side ?
Deciding where to place the main subject requires thinking about what the main subject is … Is it the phones, below? Can’t be the men themselves, you can’t see a single face in the photograph. The instruments? You see the phones a lot better. What if the story is about maintaining traditions? What third do you put that (maintaining traditions) on, in the frame?
So no, ‘mafraid not. The rule of thirds just doesn’t cut it as a solid base for improving your photography. Unless you understand the complex field it is trying to summarize in three simple words, it’s probably doing more harm than good.
I could add “don’t use your smartphone” (as I did, below) to the list or harmful recommendations. But enough heresy for one day, right ? 😉
Why hit on these two rules in particular ? Partly because they are two of the most frequently heard, partly because they deal with two of the 3 most important aspects of good photography : timing, composition, lighting.
Interestingly, you rarely hear about “rule of XXXX” to help beginners with timing. It’s just hard. And “practise, practise, practise” doesn’t have a sexy vibe to it. No Likes, no RTs, no shares.
Thing is, with great ranting comes great responsibility. Nature abhors a vacuum and destroying myths is no good if you’re not chilling willing to provide alternative brain food.
Which I am. But it’s difficult.
Distilling the 7 or more years of studying and practise that arts students go through to become fully fledged artists, and which I’ve never been through myself, into something that fits the attention span of homo webus is a bit of a lost battle.
But I’ll start publishing practical information very soon and, in the mean time, will leave you with what it still the best starting point on the Internet : Ken Rockwell’s Fart for great photographs 🙂 🙂 🙂
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