Behind the Scenes | "Rules?...What rules?" | 3 Photos and Article by Stephen Fisher

There are specific “rules” for photography. These “rules” have been around forever, and MOST of the time they are valid. But not always…

This is a photograph of two Roseate Spoonbills I made doing some aerial acrobatics. Do you like it? I like it…and it breaks at least three of those “rules."

There is a Rule of Thirds in photography. Here’s a diagram to help explain;

In a strict adherence to the Rule of Thirds, the prominent feature of the photograph would be placed on one the corners of the center box.  The spoonbills are more or less centered in the frame. My photograph broke this rule!

Another rule is that there should be no part of a bird…or ANY other subject…“clipped off”. As you can see in my photograph, the bird on the right has part of its wing clipped. My photograph broke this rule.

A really BIG rule in avian photography is that the bird’s eyes should always be prominent in the photograph. That’s not the case in my photograph. As a matter of fact, the bird on the left has its nictitating membrane covering the eye for protection. My photograph really broke this rule. 

This image also breaks the Rule of Thirds…but it works. This washed out fishing pier is the “star” of the scene. I placed it right in the center so the viewer can get the full effect. 

OK…Here’s a nice local scene I recently photographed. I have intentionally NOT corrected a MAJOR problem for landscape images. Take a look and see if you can tell how this photo breaks the rule.

You are exactly right if you guessed the horizon isn’t level! It’s critical for landscapes…and we all love to make landscape photos here in Rockport…that the world be level and straight.

I believe there are very good reasons for rules. They provide us with compositional guidelines that are widely held as the standard for photography. But that’s exactly what they are…guidelines! Even though my photograph broke three rules, I think it’s still a pretty good capture.

So when you’re composing one of your own photographs, don’t let these rules of photography restrict you. 90% of the time you need to obey them, But don’t be afraid to break a rule or three sometimes.

Stephen Fisher and his wife Sharon have lived in Rockport for almost 5 years. Stephen Is a full time nature photographer with gallery representations here in Rockport and in Corpus Christi. Their favorite question is “What took us so long to get here to Rockport?”

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