Firstly – an apology if this post is “more blog, less photo”, however I’ve noticed a few things recently that I feel I really should voice my (humble) opinion on.

There seems to be an interesting trend these days on “perfection” amongst photography. A photo is worthless unless it is technically perfect – the dynamic range of the image is totally optimal, not a single pixel is too in, or out, of focus, and the “rule of thirds” has been closely adhered to.

Also, as you may know, I like nothing more than making a sharp, contrasty image of some stunning scenery… I have the hyperfocal distances for my lenses worked out for all off the “sweet spot” apertures, and take a number of precautions with the aim of capturing the sharpest of images…

However… I always find my very very favourite shots (the top 0.5% or less) are quirky compositions that break the rules. They’re frequently badly focussed, have distracting elements, or are just plain “not mainstream”. They always make me smile, and for that reason I forgive their awful flaws. I get the feeling that I’m not the only person like this – we’re all human, we all have our own particular likes and dislikes!

So, where am I going with this? A lot of my recent posts have been landscapes of Scotland. I loved all of the shots I published, and was proud to display them. I thought they were “Good Photos”, and I’ve received lots of very positive feedback (many thanks to you all!). I’m just surprised that, looking over the last 2 weeks or so, I’ve not seen one that really makes me smile…

I think this was brought to a point when I was visiting my brother in his nice new flat (congratulations Stephen!), and took this “quick and nasty” shot of some of his kitchen jars. Immediately, I realised I’d captured a “smiler” shot, that for some reason caught my interest. I then spent at least 5 minutes repeating the shot, lining the jars up nicer, polishing the dust off them, even changing lens to get a nicer “bokeh” in the background. None of the subsequent shots were as good as my initial snap.

On an interesting, and slightly related note, you may enjoy Juan Buhler’s post about Flickr Critiques of an anonymous Cartier-Bresson print.

July 5, 2006


Steve Graham
July 6th, 2006

“polish the dust off”

Cheeky young whippersnapper! lol

also – at least you could have made a cup of coffee while playing with all the jars hehe

not one mention about my stunning suround sound – there was me thinking you might put up a wee picture of a fighter jet, or a fire engine or something lol

July 6th, 2006

I agree with what you’re saying Alan – I’ve seen far too many critiques on photoblogs that moan and moan about some technical detail when at the end of the day it can still be a great photo that makes you smile, or say wow, or conjures up some other emotion. I think we all want to be technically good at what we do, but you could be the most expert ‘technical’ photographer in the world and still take utterly crap photos that no one would be interested in. It’s the eye that has it – an interesting composition or subject makes the shot, regardless of how ‘well’ it was taken.

Oops, don’t mean to write an essay here. That said – I saw this shot and thought hey, that is really cool. Job done.

July 6th, 2006

Like everything, people are taking the photography rules too literally – they’re purely guidelines to help make pretty photos. As you say, breaking the rules ocassionally works a charm, but can also really break a picture.

This is a really nice pic btw, but I notice that the text ‘coffee’ (perhaps the highlight of the picture) is on the first third. So perhaps you weren’t deliberately abiding to that rule, but it looks nice because you did.


July 6th, 2006

Yes, analysing this I’m realising the Coffee text falls neatly on the 1st vertical. The white counter lies across the lower horizontal. The jar lid details nicely frame the top of the image.

Also, the image does seem to “draw” my eye in to more detail.

Rats! Oh well, the deal should be to not KNOWINGLY adhere to traditional photography rules.

Wannabe » Vicky, portrait
July 6th, 2006

[...] then realised that the almost sepia-esque look of the picture worked nicely – yet another example of fluke pictures [...]

July 8th, 2006

No rules can ever stop a creative mind, they are made as guidelines and they’re made to be broken. Your photos are breathtaking. Very well done!

July 12th, 2006

I feel unqualified to comment on this topic but hey, that’s never stopped me before.

I kinda know what you mean, even at the low level of photography that I practise, I take many photos that I think are ‘good’ but few that are ‘great’.

The rules can get you a ‘good’ picture most of the time, but a ‘great’ picture has to bend, break or destroy those rules.

It’s the same with most things, the genius is often seen looking in a different direction, or seeing things that don’t yet exist (I’m paraphrasing a quote, badly).

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