about | contact
Simplicity and Rule breaking
written by Bruce Giffin (Straydog)


Can we talk about simplicity?

When I first picked up a camera, I photographed a rainbow, a sunset, something by candlelight, a sailboat, etc. At that point, I ran out of obvious ideas and I had a choice to make…the camera either went into the closet and came out at Christmas and on birthdays, or I was forced to dig deep into my soul and discover some new subject matter.
I remember the day I got back a roll of B/W film from the lab and discovered an image that I couldn't possibly have taken. It was the first picture that wasn't centered, lined up, or well thought out. My work, and my passion changed that day. I started seeing differently.

Here are some pointers:

  1. Use a tripod for every picture for a year! (Ultimately you’ll use one forever for almost every picture)

  2. TURN OFF THE ON CAMERA FLASH, especially with digital cameras. It ruins the mood of most pictures. The exception would be the occasional fill flash image.

  3. Break the rules! All of them. Forget the “Rule of Thirds”! Stop centering every picture. Slant the horizons. Distort with a wide angle lens. Shake the camera! Experiment!

  4. Stop using gimmicks. For example, hand tinting B/W photos is so overdone that only occasionally does it have any impact! It better be exceptional! Simple, straight photographs don’t need any gimmicks!

  5. Break Rule 4!

  6. Other peoples’ opinions of your work are not valid. Yes, a comment about a technical item may be appropriate, but YOUR composition isn’t negotiable! They are only telling you how THEY would have taken the photo if they were there, which they weren’t. Trust your own heart…Remember-Picasso would probably have flunked art class!

  7. You can just document a subject or you can attempt to photograph the way it makes you feel. Take for example the Eiffel Tower. I doubt that there are any ways left to document it. But there are millions of ways to express the way it makes one feel. Go with your heart! Always!

II suspect there are others, but I think you get the idea! The interesting thing for me is that any beginner is perfectly capable of taking a photo that is better than anything I've ever done in 20 years in his or her's very first roll of film! Now that's exciting!

Bruce Giffin (Straydog)