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Thoughts on Well Known Photographers Breaking the Technical Rules of Photography


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This is an opinion gathering post.  Please add your thoughts in the “comment section” of my blog.

I am not a blog stalker, but I often do end up perusing websites and blogs of well known photographers to the photographic community. People often ask me how they can get their work to look like “x” photographer.  Often I end up wondering why they want their work looking like a specific person’s.

I do not plan to “name names” here but so many break rules of photography.  I often see blown skies and even blowouts on clothing, sunspots on skin, oversaturated almost neon color, skin that has a blown red channel or lacks detail…  The biggest offender is isolated color casts, skin tone way off, or white clothing and whites of eyes has a clear color cast.

opinion-thumb Thoughts on Well Known Photographers Breaking the Technical Rules of Photography MCP Thoughts Polls

So the question I am posing to you today is when looking at the art of well known portrait and wedding photographers who have sharp shots, great background blur, solid composition, or are just famous – but who have some exposure, color issues or problems with other fundamentals – do you:

  • Let it go – they are artists and once they learn the rules – they can break them.
  • Art is subjective, even the technical stuff is a gray area.
  • Get frustrated – these are the same issues I have and yet I would get criticized for producing the exact same image if I posted it on my website or a photography forum.
  • Wonder how they do not see these imperfections in their own work.
  • Wonder if they do not know how to expose properly or know how to avoid or correct color issues. Or is this their artistic intent.
  • Think to myself, my work is better than theirs.  How come they are well known and I am not.
  • Realize that there is more to photography than technical skills. Business skills, networking and personality often can propel a photographer further than their actual photographs.
  • Think that technical skills are overrated – as a photographer I should be able to do what I want and so should they.
  • Try not to look at their work – all that matters is what mine looks like.
  • Other – the above where just some thoughts you may have.  Please elaborate on these or any others you have.
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  1. Bobby Johnson on August 27, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Jodi,I’m just kind of a ‘live and let live’ kinda guy. If they want to break the rules, I guess they’ve earned that right. And when I think about it, so have I. Now whether I let it influence me is another matter. Personally, I much prefer sharp to soft, correct color to ‘interpretive’ color, etc. But that doesn’t mean I won’t step over the line on occasion, and have been known to do it from time to time. And you know what? It’s kinda fun breaking the rules every now and then, and I highly recommend it. It’s like ‘digital skinny-dipping’! ;-)Thanks for the soapbox!- Bobby

  2. JulieLim on August 27, 2009 at 9:51 am

    First off I am one of your blog stalkers, ha! Your blog has so many resources that I can count on and your selfless devotion to helping out other photographers is amazing! Thank you. That said, I do feel that it IS okay to break the rule as long as you know them first. I once went through this phase when I hated all of my photos because I was applying action after actions to my photos to mimic other photographer’s style. Make it timeless-that was my new goal because I cringe when I go through my photos and see the way I used to edit my photos. Of course we all know this but it’s really up to the photographer and how they want to pursue it.

  3. Dana Ross on August 27, 2009 at 9:57 am

    For me, it’s easier to just let it go. Why should I let what they do (or don’t do) consume my time or worry? I have a business to run and I get paid to produce what I produce. And they do as well. Some of them may be well-known simply because of who they know, not the work they produce. Then again, if the client is happy, then why does it matter? I have my own style and sometimes blow the sky or add a little too much contrast or saturation, but that’s me and my style. And what they do is what makes them as well. I have often thought that my work IS better than theirs and yet I’m not “popular” but that’s too reminiscent of high-school immaturity and playing childish games. I am who I am, and my work is what it is. I’m proud of my work, my style and my standards, but I don’t expect other photographers to feel the same. As long as my clients are 100% satisfied with the work I produce for them, then I’m a-okay and I’ll leave the other photographers to do what they feel is best. With that said.. IMHO, sometimes rules are meant to be broken. I don’t follow the “rules” simply because some of those rules are not cohesive with the type of work I like to produce. And because I’m an individual, I’m free to express that very individuality in a way I see fit. Individuality is powerful and takes joy in ruffling feathers..

  4. Sue Ann on August 27, 2009 at 9:58 am

    This is prob my main reaction:’Get frustrated – these are the same issues I have and yet I would get criticized for producing the exact same image if I posted it on my website or a photography forum.”with a little of this thrown in”Realize that there is more to photography than technical skills. Business skills, networking and personality often can propel a photographer further than their actual photographs.”and this”Try not to look at their work “ñ all that matters is what mine looks like.”I think some rules are made to broken – others, not so much…

  5. Martha Moring on August 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Interesting question, Jodi.I think these three are probably closest to how I feel:–Let it go “ñ they are artists and once they learn the rules “ñ they can break them.–Art is subjective, even the technical stuff is a gray area.–Think that technical skills are overrated “ñ as a photographer I should be able to do what I want and so should they.Art truly is subjective and photography is art. I generally assume that the photographer meant to do what they did. And if they didn’t actually intend it, they must like the result anyway.What you may see as a technical issue, they (and others) may see as a style.

  6. ashley on August 27, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I think i have thought all of those at one point in time. i don’t like getting criticized for something that they do in their photos however. there are a few things i hate regardless of who does them. missed focus and stuff like that.

  7. Michelle Huesgen on August 27, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Well…tough question, because there are so many different sides to the answer. On one hand I do think that once you have become seasoned and skilled at your craft, we as artists, grow and sometimes try to push the envelope to keep things inspiring and exciting. There have been many instances when I saw images and thought “WTH” we they thinking, but then the photos get rave reviews. I like to think it is the “nice” person in us that doesn’t comment, and not the fact that the upcoming photogs really have no clue about that stuff. Like everything in life, it is not always about quality…however discouraging it is…we just have to get over it and move on and just be happy with OUR work.

  8. Alice on August 27, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I struggle with this when asking for CC – I get CC on things that I know are “wrong” but I love the image anyway or broke the rule purposfully. So, I probably fall into the:”Get frustrated – these are the same issues I have and yet I would get criticized for producing the exact same image if I posted it on my website or a photography forum.”

  9. Terry Lee on August 27, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Admittedly, I am an MCP blog stalker, too 🙂 Mostly, for learning and, Jodi, you are a genuine, generous teacher. When I was researching web design, I stumbled across some wonderful (famous) photographers and I realize how it could be tempting to want to imitate their work. I don’t make it a habit to look at their blogs, etc, because I am more interested in finding my own style at this point.My advice and what is important to remember when navigating your way through all of this is that everyone is unique in their own special way and it is up to you to do the soul searching and experimenting to find out what your expression will be. Photography is a tool…light is the medium…but not everyone sees things the same way. Some people ARE more technical and love to reflect that in their work…it makes them “feel” good and therefore, it makes the viewer “feel” good.I agree with Julie Lim in that it is O.K. to break the rules as long as you know them first. True creativity comes when your pre-occupation with the equipment and learning how to use it becomes second nature and then the equipment becomes an extension of yourself…so when you are taking pictures or editing them, use your heart and what feels good to you. Others will respond to that andit can be off-the-wall artsy or truly technical and perfect. There is a place for everyone in this vastand wonderful world of photography. I am blown away by the possibilities of the digital world.I know it can be confusing, but if you can remember that less is more and sometimes more is less,you can just have fun with it, appreciate others for their vision and find your own place in it all.No one can see things like you do…WHATEVER is in your heart is what the world will see if you digdeep enough…xo

  10. Mark Hayes on August 27, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I used to get hung up on some local “glamour” photographers. Bad skin softening (that looks really nice, for a plastic mannequin” unreal eye color and eye whites that go to “Stargate Ga’uld” white. For the most part I let it go. When editing an image it’s too hard to be certain sometimes what was driving them. If it’s emotion of the moment and they are trying to enhance that, all the technical details can fall by the way side if it gives the client something wonderful. I had the awesome chance to listen to Joe Buissink speak for a Denver group of photographers recently. He brought and showed an amazing image on the screen. When he entered it in competition it scored a 70. The judge pointed out the technical details that where just off. Joe asked, “But how does it make you feel?” Judge replied that it didn’t make him “feel” anything. The judge wasn’t connected to the image. Joe was there and shared the couples day, the bride and groom and family all where a part of it. To the bride and groom it was “THE” image that captured their love. The disconnected judge/viewer just saw the technicals, those with a connection to the image saw the emotion. Beauty, and so it seems photography styles, are truly in the eye of the beholder.

  11. keri on August 27, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Some things bother me more than others OOF is one that is hard for me to get past. A blown sky is not a big deal in my book. So I guess it depends on the “technical” thing that is wrong.

  12. Wendy Mayo on August 27, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Oh, I really like what Mark said about feeling something for the photo. That is why we are in this business – to make photos that make people feel something. And, those same photos will make those same people feel that something for a very long time.I too get frustrated because I have always tried really hard to get everything technically correct, and yet, I am not a famous photographer. I have noticed lately though, that I am getting more and more clients from referrals from past/current clients. That’s a good sign! I also realize that it is a business, and no matter how technically good you are, you have to have great business skills to make it. You also have to sell yourself more than the photography. People have to like you and feel comfortable with you in order for you to get the best photos. Since I realized this fact, I have tried to market myself instead of my photography. Funny things is, my photography got better when I stopped trying so hard!

  13. Roger Shackelford on August 27, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I have paid photographers confess to me privately on facebook that they do not understand f/stop and shutter speed. I began posting explanations on my “A1 Art Teachers” global group. I now refer them to those posts and give them homework. The reason I began shooting weddings is twofold. My wedding photographer did not “shoot” my wedding properly, so my wife put her wedding dress back on and I had to rent my tuxedo and limo again for a reshoot. The limo driver was very accommodating and took us to locations where she had connections to get in. I hired a coworker to push the shutter after I set up the shot and counted one, two, three”_ The photos are now in a Leather Craftsman album. I used to sell them when I shot weddings. I say all this to make the point “ñ know your craft before you do a wedding. It reflects badly on the industry when a “photographer” does not bring back a story in pictures. I had to look at a lot of problematic photos to salvage my wedding coverage. Most of my wedding album is made up of my reshoot. Secondly, I was backed into shooting weddings by friends who knew I did photography. The film industry no longer supports my 70 mm Hasselblad back and I cannot buy the $10,000 digital back, so”_ I hope to get back into teaching art and photography.It is great to break the rules, but first tell the story of their wedding (beginning, middle and end). Don’t’ forget that framed coffee table shot!You may have a similar story. I still enjoy shooting my Nikon D80 on manual with my old Nikkor lens. Maybe someday I’ll get back into the business. I’m still looking for a custom film maker who can perforate 2 Œ_ for a fifteen foot load, if you know of anyone who does this?Feel free to post or pitch any photography lesson ideas at A1 Art Teachers. You can comment on art lessons you enjoyed while growing up, or pitch an idea you have thought of for any age group and we will develop it. I greatly appreciate Jodi’s work and all she has done to help others with her posts. It is my pleasure to share them with art and photography teachers. I would like to thank her again for her valuable contributions to all of us!

  14. Vanessa Segars on August 27, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I think I’ve heard this discussion one too many times because the answers seem soo obvious to me… But in an effort to keep it simple, I’ll just restate the points from above that are closest to my opinion:**Let it go “ñ they are artists and once they learn the rules “ñ they can break them. **Realize that there is more to photography than technical skills. Business skills, networking and personality often can propel a photographer further than their actual photographs. That being said, if you have clients that like what you do and you’re happy to do it for them – you have a great chance at running a successful business. Different styles work for different people – the sooner you can live with that as a photographer, the freer you will be to produce your own *art*. Do yourself a favor – Don’t be a “hater”.

  15. Cort on August 27, 2009 at 11:23 am

    “Well known” and “good” photographer are not necessarily the same, I have seen the work of many “well known” photographers that is mediocre at best. I have also seen stunning images from “good” photographers that do not fit into the “well known” category. The difference is some photographers want to be rock stars in the photographic world and actively market themselves as such, others just go out and do good work for their clients.Far too many portrait and wedding photographers today don’t think they need to learn the technical side of photography, it isn’t important. The two standard answers you get when you point out the technical problems are “It is art” and/or “The parents/bride loved the image.”The “It is art” excuse for bad photography has been around for years and is still just as much of a joke now as it was 30 years ago. The follow up answer to this when you point out the specifics is that “It is art and you don’t get it,” I get it fine, you are passing off crappy photography by calling it art.The other excuse, “The parents/bride loved the image” is not valid either. While it is important that your clients like the work you do for them, just because they like it does not make it good photography. They have a deep emotional attachment to the subject matter in the photograph and will love just about any semi focused and exposed image you give them.When I come across the work of a “well known” photographer that consistently has technical issues I put them in the “better at marketing than photography” category and don’t pay much attention to them.This doesn’t mean that you always have to follow the rules, there are a few photographers that have made breaking a rule their style. They do things like blow out highlights, the difference is they do this intentionally and understand what they are doing. They follow the old saying “You have to know the rules before you can break them.”Unfortunately too many photographers don’t care about the rules because they don’t think they matter and it shows in the poor quality photography. But hey, it is okay, after all “It is art” and/or “The parents/bride loved the image,” so who cares if it is good photography, I am a rock star in the photography world and that is all that matters.

  16. Pam on August 27, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I really don’t see anything in my favorite photographer’s photos to criticize other than the colors are super saturated sometimes – but it works for them. I enjoy the creativity and composition much more than the technical things. Photography is art, and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Recently my very favorite photo that I shot didn’t do anything for anyone other than me. I still loved it and had it framed. It makes me happy. Good food for thought post, Jodi.

  17. Marta Locklear on August 27, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Not everyone loves Picasso, but if he didn’t break the rules, would he still be one of the most famous artist in the world? To some this is art, to some it is a job. To the ones that it is art, rules will be broken, and they will enjoy it.

  18. Wilma on August 27, 2009 at 11:41 am

    It’s usually obvious when someone has chosen to abandon certain technical perfections for the sake of creativity. While I may or may not choose to do things the same way, I can respect the choices the photographer has made. It’s art.Technical skills are important and artists/photographers should always work on mastering their craft. Compulsively adhering to rules doesn’t make great art. (Rule of thirds comes to mind).I’d say:# Let it go “ñ they are artists and once they learn the rules “ñ they can break them.# Art is subjective, even the technical stuff is a gray area.But … I’d never hire a photographer who consistently has badly focused images for instance.

  19. Krista on August 27, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Wonder if my monitor is properly calibrated. Surely those skies can’t be THAT blown out or the sun flares THAT overwhelming.Wonder who makes the rules anyhow. If so many successful photographers are able to break the rules and make money doing it, maybe those rules aren’t quite so hard and fast as everyone wants you to think.

  20. Judy on August 27, 2009 at 11:57 am

    See, I always thought green skin wasn’t a rule to keep or break, it just wasn’t good photography. I do not understand color casts on skin, and there are certain photographers who I see it happening with ALL the time. It drives me crazy. Other things don’t bother me so much as long as they don’t detract from the image too much: Blown sky, limb chop, the baby centered exactly in the middle of the frame. That being said, it is, in the end, all about where that photographer is. Are her clients happy? Is he making enough to live on? If so then there is really nothing to be said about it. It is definitely frustrating, though, to be aware that people’s photos aren’t perceived as well simply because their name isn’t known. It’s something I have personally become aware of in the last few months. Marketing is a huge part of running a successful photography business, and a lot of times can make up for what someone lacks in the technical department.

  21. Nikki on August 27, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Just my opinion:I Truly Love, Love, Love, inspiration, well known or not… I work full time and photography is my passion… Yes, I can be techinical if need be, artsy depending on the mood, serious or silly at times…. We all have our own minds and our minds do not think exactly the same everyday… Well most of us anyways. Some things I may be good at one day, may be off the next… So to sum all of this up, I love looking at other people’s stuff, not to look for flaws but to see things from a different perspective or angle. Sometimes bored looking at my own stuff… And if I am lucky enough to even notice the flaws beyond the actual image “of a well know photographer”, then it makes me feel better about my own… Point is, no one is perfect, no matter how much they try to BS people, so keep on doing what makes you HAPPY.. You will only get better as you grow!!! 🙂 Later gators!!!!

  22. Crystal on August 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Blown skies don’t bother me as long at the subjects are properly exposed! Although I do love a good sky. I love sunflair hazy sunset shots too. Oversaturation to the point of neon yes…I don’t care for that but whatev. Some blown spots on skin if they shot light (not a blown patch from dappled light) don’t bother me as long as it’s not terrible. I don’t mind a little high key in color or b&w. But color casts selective and global do drive me crazy. I think photography IS an art and there are so many rules you can break. Heck..even focus. I’ve seen great photos of completely OOF, on purpose of course. But color casts are the ONE rule that should not be broken I think. I’ve seen so many wedding photos were the dress has a obvious blue or cyan color casts. Or shots in the grass in a wooded area where the skin and the shadows have crazy casts. It’s funny you wrote this because once in a while I’ll blog stalk, and I’m seeing bad color casts on SO many. IDK if they see it and just don’t care, don’t want to take the time to fix it or just don’t see it. Very interesting topic!

  23. Trude Ellingsen on August 27, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    To me it boils down to the particular photographer. The ones who have such a clearly defined style and consistently break the same “rules”, its like I understand where they’re coming from but some things aren’t necessarily what I would do. But I can appreciate that we need all these different types of photogs, to meet the demand of all the different types of clients, KWIM?

  24. Candice & Daniel Lanning on August 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    How boring would it be if all photographers work looked the exact same? I think that’s why each photographer draws in their own type of clients…b/c the client likes their style. It’s like being mad at Carrie Underwood because she wasn’t a classically trained vocalist. Does she sing with vocal fry? Absolutely. But she still rocks, her music speaks to many and in the end, is it really important?It is my personal opinion that when we criticize others or we want them to fit in the ‘same box’ we are in that we are often showing our own insecurities. Know who you are…and love your self. Comparing one’s self to another is a recipe for a miserable artist.

  25. Vanessa Segars on August 27, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I couldn not have said it better than Candice and Daniel Lanning (above). There’s room in the market for everyone, as long as you’re true to yourself. If everyone followed all the technical rules all the time, we would be able to swap each other out for photographic services and nobody would know the difference. B.O.R.I.N.G.

  26. Jamie AKA Phatchik on August 27, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I know Jasmine Star posted a blog a few months ago about the fact that she always has blown-out skies. I guess someone said something to her husband about it not knowing that it was her husband..or something like that. Anyway, I don’t let it bother me most of the time. If I look at the photo and love it, then who cares? The thing is, I believe in creating art for arts sake. NOT for other people to approve or disapprove. There are certain things that make my skin crawl, but most of the time, I just chalk it up to creative license.

  27. Doni Brinkman on August 27, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Photography is art and the artist defines it. 🙂 Do “rules” and “art” really belong in the same sentence? 🙂

  28. Leslie C. on August 27, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I feel similarly about teachers or professional writers who misuse apostrophes (as in the sentence, “I feel similarly about teacher’s or writer’s who misuse apostrophe’s”), spell badly, mix up “their,” “they’re” and “there” or write with poor sentence structure. If one is paid money to know a certain set of rules, the person should demonstrate that knowledge before choosing to break those rules. Many good writers creatively break rules of grammar, write in fragments and intentionally coin new words, and their writing is only better because of it. Clever. Interesting. Vivid. And you can tell when it is intentional and you can tell when it is just carelessness or, even worse, the person doesn’t even know how to write properly.Why get paid to do something poorly? In photography it is much the same. There are certain rules, but there is creativity within and beyond the rules. If a person does not know the basic rules, that person is not a professional. He or she is called an “amateur.” One who loves.On the other hand, in an amateur (again, someone who does something only for the love of it), or in someone just learning, this rule-breaking is entirely forgivable. And there is so much to love in something less than perfect. I am reminded of that daily when I look at my little sons. Or at my imperfect photos of them.But… I’m not paid for that.

  29. Leslie C. on August 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    To the question, “Do rules and art belong in the same sentence?” (And what a great question!) Just ask Mozart. 🙂 He would say yes. His music (like all music from that era) was all about rules. Yet he is considered one of the most creative musical artists of all time. The very best artists know how to exercise freedom and creativity within the rules. The results are almost always less enjoyable and less artistic when one throws out the rules altogether. Same goes for when one sticks so rigidly to the rules that there is no life left.

  30. Janet McK on August 27, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I am not one to judge, as I don’t produce technically perfect photos at all. When I spot a photo that has a slight color cast to it, for example, I’ll either feel a little less stressed about trying to make my photos “perfect”, or I’ll realize that they intended it to be that way. Almost every GOOD photographer that breaks the rules is doing so on purpose. It’s art, and they’re entitled. That’s all I care about. Did they mean to do that? If not, they’re not worth following! :DPicasso didn’t produce technically perfect reproductions of his subjects. If he had, we wouldn’t know him.

  31. Stacey on August 27, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    WOW – I was just thinking this last night! I’m friends with a lot of photographers who worked hard to get as good as they can get and I feel have earned their place in the photographic community b/c their work is really good and they strive for perfection. Then there are others who just buy an SLR, get a blog/website and are in business, but their photos are not even close to being technically correct. Personally, I think that breaking the rules a little isn’t bad and can be artistic at times, but when you are way off the mark, you really need to build your skill before you charge people for your product. However, most “average joes” who end up being their clients don’t know what “blown” is, a color cast, etc. They just see a picture that is better than what they can get with a P&S or a canned studio.But, I also agree with… “Wonder if they do not know how to expose properly or know how to avoid or correct color issues. Or is this their artistic intent. ” Like I said above… a lot of people just get an SLR and go into business and unless they tap into a community of other photographic professionals, they might now know how to “do it right”.

  32. Alisha Shaw on August 27, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I’m definitely with the know the rules, then break them crowd and really their business is their business. It is the best thing about any industry, competition- Good and bad. It makes those who care raise their skills and help educate clients on what to look for in GOOD photography. It also allows those who cannot afford “Good” to settle for “not-so-good” but isn’t any photo better than none at all? The point is to capture people or places or things and we are super spoiled that we can do it so easily and with such abandon. EVERY client I’ve ever photographed has seen my work before they booked me-they must see something they like as do those who book with better or worse. Since some photographers know nothing and others know everything, there is a fit for every style, budget and personality.

  33. Kristen on August 27, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I am so glad you posted this. I just had this conversation with one of my friends last night. I belong to a forum (unnamed) and lost a TON of confidence because of some of the stuff photographers say to fellow photographers. I believe that each photographer is an artist and if they have clients that love their work, that’s all that matters. I choose not to get on the forum and watch photographers beat other photographers down. Yes, there is a wealth of information on there but something about it rubbed me the wrong way.So what I’m trying to say is, they are an artist so it doesn’t bother me. 🙂

  34. Amanda on August 27, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    There have been times, on forums, where I’ve seen more experienced photographers praised for a particular shot and its creativity and thought to myself, “if I had posted that, I would be criticized for not following the rules.” So I’m not going to say I’m immune to having those feelings, but I’m not a huge rule follower and when I look at photos, I don’t even think about rules per se. The only thing that bothers me as a rule is unsharp images. Other than that – yes, I definitely think that a photo can look bad, but not strictly because of breaking the rules. Blown out skies, center comps, and cut-off limbs don’t automatically make a picture unappealing to me. The overall aesthetic quality of the composition is so much more than following the rules.

  35. Cort on August 27, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    99% of what portrait photographers produce and 90% of what wedding photographers produce is not art. It does not mean that they are bad photos or the customer will not like them, they just are not art.Art has now joined photojournalism in wedding/portrait photography as a word used more for it’s marketing appeal than an actual description of the work. It is way more cool, hip and trendy to be an artiste than a photographer.Because art is a very subjective and nebulous thing it is all too easy for photographers to use it as an excuse for poor technical skills. Back to the “It’s art, you just don’t get it” philosophy when you point out a technical flaw like off color skin tones. In the art world it is extremely rare to find a great artist that does not have a very strong set of technical skills to go with their creativity.One thing I have never heard about or from an artist is their art got worse because their technical skills improved.

  36. Stephanie Castillo on August 27, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Who says there are “RULES” to photography anyway?? I say you make the rules- that’s what makes your work uniquely “YOU” right! “How much of your contentment is dependent on how you compare yourself to others? Do you have a “photo-disorder” ?” -David Jay (I thought this was an interesting tweet from David)Don’t let what other people do or say act as a boundary or “rule” for what you create, but also take in the CC with the willingness to become better if you believe the advice is helpful to YOUR work. Be yourself and let it [your art] all flow out and find your true niche 🙂 Always be willing to help your fellow photographers and be open-minded.. the learning process never ends and this is what makes photography fun ! I really hate it when other photographers just have that I’m-so-much-better-than-you snob attitude, it’s really very unattractive to me in the photography world. I believe finding inspiration from other photographers is fantastic but take it and run with it, turn what you see as inspiration into your own creative art. I follow my favorite photographers daily and continuously keep an eye out for other photography “friends” that inspire me and are just those kind of down to earth people who are always willing to learn from each other. Good luck to all those photog’s out there! May all your dreams and creations come true 🙂

  37. Haleigh on August 27, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    This is a great discussion. I think that I’ve felt ever single emotion that you listed above at different times, viewing different people’s photography. I think that I agree with everyone that you need to have the technical skills to take a properly exposed image before you go claiming that you broke the rules on purpose. There are photography “rules” that are a go to for all photographers because they are “tried and true.” We know that using these rules will produce a pleasing image.That being said, photography is just like any other art form. I think that photography would be SOOOO boring if everyone constantly produced perfectly exposed images that follow all of the rules of photography. I like to find inspiration in new ideas and I applaud photographers who know what their doing and are still brave enough to take a chance and break the rules from time to time.

  38. Niecey on August 27, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Let it go “ñ they are artists and once they learn the rules “ñ they can break them.I prefer photography a little rustic rather than every little detail edited to uniform standard. Plus what I tend to admire most about such unnamed photographers is their poses and ability to bring out joy and such natural stances and expressions in their clients. I wish I could make people feel as comfortable with a lens pointed at them.

  39. Deirdre Malfatto on August 27, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I think — more power to them! I can’t wait to feel confident enough with my understanding of how to do things the right way that I can just let go and take photos that please my eyes! Once upon a time I took snapshots, and as long as I caught the gist of what I was trying to photograph, I was happy. Now my goal is to understand how to take technically excellent photos and go back to the freedom of taking snapshots. I think professional photographers can often get so caught up in the technicalities that they can forget about the art and beautiful spontaneity of it all.

  40. Patty Reiser on August 27, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    I do think of photography as “art” and therefore do not say anything to the artist or against the artiest. I will admit that there are times when I review the work of “professionals” and think to myself that I could have taken a better picture.

  41. Aaron on August 28, 2009 at 2:51 am

    “¢Let it go “ñ they are artists and once they learn the rules “ñ they can break them.I find that my clients surprise me when they pick photos that I don’t think are that good and ignore the ones which are in my opinion so much better. The important thing is not what other passers by think but what the paying punter is willing hand over hard earned cash for. If they are happy and tell their friends that you are going to do well.

  42. Pam Davis on August 28, 2009 at 11:48 am

    It appears the majority say let it go, but at times when I am reading professional photographers mag and I see a tree growing out of some persons head I have to wonder why they would choose that image for national publication and how did they get there in the first place. That being said I would say at the most I think about it while I am looking at the images then shrug and move on. It is just another learning experience.

  43. Pam Davis on August 28, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Sorry I forgot to add to the previous post THANKS JODI for all your hard work and I enjoy your blog and you are a great teacher.

  44. Heather Maynard on August 28, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Let it go “ñ they are artists and once they learn the rules “ñ they can break them.I think that there’s so much more to a photo than the technical. Yes, if you show me two versions of the same photo and one is technically perfect and the other is not, I’m going to like the technically correct one. But I think what is often appealing about a photo is what is captured – a certain look, a connection between two people, a fleeting moment, etc. Often, I think that what a photographer likes and what a client likes are different. I may discard a photo because of technical imperfections, but the client might choose that same photo as one of their favorites from a session if I show it to them. I’ve also noticed that lots of photographers post imperfect photos on their blogs – photos that I would never put on mine – but I typically love them when I see them because there’s something they’ve captured that was worth saving, and even sharing (not saying all the photos on mine are perfect by any means, just that there are certain imperfections I prefer not to showcase). I guess what I’m saying is we are our own worst critics.That being said, I think there are certain unforgivables, like a blurry image, underexposure, etc., but I’m not sure how many of the “well-known” photographers are guilty of such unforgivables. And I’m with some of the people above – I’m not sure how well rules and art go together.

  45. Jane Powers on August 29, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    It’s not so much that I want my images to look like someone elses, though I admit to copying a composition now and then, but when I look at images that make my heart soar, I notice fabulous light in the subject’s eyes, and I wonder “why can’t I seem to get that catchlight???”. I wish I had someone to learn alongside of!!!!

  46. meg campbell-back on August 30, 2009 at 3:20 am

    well I think you can break the rules, but as long as the message/subject/intent remains clear. sometimes breaking the rules actually accentuates the feel of the photo, then it’s perfect, eg a big blown haze behind a bride which makes her look angelic (but you can still tell it’s her/or see her expression to give you connection). But I agree, I think there are people who are trading on their name and have forgotten to look, to learn, to listen to others and develop, and often they present something and rave about it but lets face it to us that blown spot DOES draw our eye away, or that blur does make our eye want to correct it, and the great moment they thought they caught IS just “meh” for us (even if only subconsciously) , and it didn’t have to be that way if they hadn’t let their ego get in the way of their journey…and it goes the other way too, some photos just are TOO correct, too processed, too colour corrected… and the original magic is lost…But who am I too, talk! must stop looking at other people’s blogs and update my own! Great question Jodi, thanks…

  47. meg campbell-back on August 30, 2009 at 3:22 am

    sorry… that was meant to be “who am I to talk?!”time to stop for the night…

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