Photography Blog

"Consulting the rules of composition before taking a photograph, is like consulting the laws of gravity before going for a walk." Edward Weston

Breaking All The Rules


One of the first things I learned when I started taking pictures was how to break all the rules. Actually, it wasn’t so much that I broke all the rules but rather that I didn’t have a clue what the rules are. I just knew what I did and didn’t like so I learned (and continue to learn) through a lot of trial and error.

It’s the same way that I learn most things. As with most things in life, I tend to go back later to read the directions but that may not be the best learning style for everyone.

When we start feeling a bit stale with our photography, it may be a good time to go back to the basics.

It could be as simple as taking the time to truly study things like ISO, shutter speed and aperture, or going back to reading the owner’s manual for our camera for the 100th time. For some though, folks like me, it could also be time to finally learn the basic rules of composition.

This might not be as easy of a task as you might think because even the professional photographers don’t seem to always agree with what those rules actually are.

One thing they all seem to agree on though is that they are more like guidelines than hard rules.

A Few Common Rules of Composition

I find it amazing how much more sense stuff makes to me when I come back to it later and how much of it comes naturally in what we like. If you learn anything from this, learn that the best part of the rules is breaking them, but it sure can help to at least know them so that you have a foundation to build from.


J. Cricket Walker


  1. Simon EastopSimon Eastop10-14-2012

    From spending a whole week getting to do a perfect thirds rule photo, that my lecturer didn’t like anyway and my way of thinking presently, rules are there for guidance. Once you know them, throw them out of the window as you will never get a fantastic shot by sticking with them. One day you’ll be without a decent camera and take a picture on your mobile phone that captures a moment like no other. You don’t need rules or expensive equipment to be an artist, you need inspiration and a lot of luck!

  2. Simon EastopSimon Eastop10-14-2012

    I take all my photos on a mobile or a cheap Fiji bridge camera. I don’t think I or 90% of the Facebook group are shooting anything which doesn’t compare or is better than any professional photographers.

    • CricketCricket10-14-2012

      I found this quote today. It is so true!

      “Some of the best photography I have ever seen has come from the eyes, heart, and souls of amateur photographers.” Joe DiMaggio

      • John KainJohn Kain10-17-2012

        So true Cricket. Most amateurs use photography to remember the important times or the emotional times in their lives. They don’t care or know about rules. They just want to remember those times and many have done such great job of recording the event or moment they feel the same emotion years later. One of the many rules I have tried to learn over the years is try to tell a story with each photo. Amareurs do that without thinking about it! Great quote find!

        • CricketCricket10-22-2012

          My biggest goal with my photography is to learn to tell a story…

    • CharlotteCharlotte10-15-2012

      Thanks, Cricket, for sharing this tutorial. Very well presented, excellent illustrations, and to the point – I needed that refresher!!

  3. Joyce CampJoyce Camp10-15-2012

    When I bought my Minolta in 1975 I had no idea what I was doing! I just turned knobs and made adjustments until I liked what I saw through the lens and would snap. To my surprise they always turned out well!
    My cousin’s friend was a photographer and was looking at my album one day and started asking me about photos I had taken of a pink roses..what setting did I used for such and such..what did I have this set to! I looked at him and said I looked through view finder and turned this and adjusted that until I like it and hit the shutter! He started laughing at me and said well those are some beautiful pictures!
    To this day I still don’t understand the ISO, shutter speed and aperture! Going to try and really read up on them and use my camera on manual! Hopefully someday upgrade to a DSLR Camera!
    Thanks to Cricket and everyone else that give all us hobbyist photographers encouragement!

  4. Joyce CampJoyce Camp10-15-2012

    Above.. the Negative Space confuses me on most of the photos..I would consider them Focal Points and Rules of Thirds!

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