SolJorn Pointers: Breaker of Rules

People love to tell you about “rules” to make your photography better. My answer to that as a photographer, but more importantly a creative, is to learn all the rules so that you will know when to break them.

You may have heard some of the photography rules that I am referencing, like the “Rule of Thirds” (see above), “Leading Lines”, “Rule of Odds”, “Balancing Elements”, etc. Some swear by these rules, that there is some kind of science to what makes a well composed photograph. There may be some truth to that, but as an artist you have to decide when to push these boundaries, to create a more intersting images.

Classic Example of the “Rule of Thirds” working for a balanced image.
The sky in the top third, and a focal point of the Hoodoos formation on the intersection.

If you are unfamiliar with the “Rule of Thirds”, it is the idea that an image is more pleasing to the eye if it is divisible into thirds. In the example above, the foreground forest is in the bottom third, and the sky and mountain are in the top third of the picture. The argument is that if you have more or less of one or the other, the photograph may becomes less visually pleasing. This is why most cameras now have an option in the viewfinder to display the “thirds” grid. But if you know me at all, I can be a square peg in a round hole kinda guy.

Above is a great example of disregarding the “Rule of Thirds”. The image on the left, was an effort to conform to this rule, having the red cedar forest floor in the bottom third, with the bench at the intersection line. But to me, the immense amount of red/orange in the image takes away from the subject… the trees. I know what you are thinking, the bench is the subject! However, I want the viewer to imagine sitting on this bench, in awe of the height of the trees. So to me, the bench needs to lead the eyes up to the subject, the trees. To do that, I pushed the foreground to the very bottom of the image, seemingly making the trees look even taller. What do you think, which image do you prefer?

So get out there and learn some “rules”. Then break them, and make the images you take uniquely yours.

I hope you were able to get something out of this post. Do you have photography questions? Comment below, or send an email to

Author: Matthew Romcevich

Anna & Matt She writes, He images

2 thoughts

  1. Hey Matt, good write up….. I like the image on the right with less of the red/orange to emphasis the height of the trees

    1. Thanks Joe. Glad you like it. Had you heard of the rule of thirds before? If so, do you like to use it?

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