When NOT to Compose Photographs by the RULES (VIDEO)

If you’ve been around the block more than once you’re no doubt familiar with many of the “rules” of composition. Budding outdoor photographers are told to use the Rule of Thirds, always include the foreground to create a sense of depth, and never position a subject in the middle of the frame or bisect a shot with the horizon.

But as most of us refine our skills we learn that all this conventional wisdom is just a starting point, and there are often times when you should break the rules if you want to capture impactful images that stand out from the rest. And that’s what the quick video below is all about.

Pro landscape/travel photographer Craig Roberts is also an adept instructor, known for concise tutorials that quickly convey important techniques. In this eight-minute episode, he provides a rundown of the above rules and several others, and then demonstrates when you’ll achieve more powerful results by taking a different approach.

Roberts uses his compelling photos to illustrate the composition techniques he recommends. He’s not a naysayer who suggests rules are just for beginners, but rather someone who strongly believes that deliberately breaking some of these conventions on occasion can result in photographs that are more compelling than doing things “the proper way.”

The bottom line is that a willingness to rebel against common formulas will help you see things in new ways, provide a sense of freedom and creativity, and ultimately make you a better photographer. While watching the video, as Roberts displays images shot according to the rules and others with the “non-use” of the same rules, ask yourself which photos you like best.

If you appreciate what you’ve learned, head over to Roberts’ YouTube channel for more helpful tips. And be sure to check out our earlier post, with seven common photography myths to avoid.