What are "the rules" ?

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
123
I've been meaning to start this thread for months ... not sure whether this is a "watering hole" kind of thread or a "philosophy" kind of thread ... but certainly not a deadly serious one.

I know that I apply "rules" to the pictures I take ... one is that when I'm out and about snapping, if I see an image I want but it's marred by - say - a cigarette end or a bit of grass in the wrong place, rather than move the offending item, I won't take the photo ... now this has nothing to do with some convoluted ethical standpoint of mine that a photograph must "reflect reality" or whatever, it's just something I won't do ... completely irrational!

I'm interested to know what self-imposed rules others might have ... this isn't about shoulds and shouldn'ts, just about what personal rules you apply to how you exercise your hobby ...
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
124
bart
hmm I don't think I have many rules in that regard, I just do what I feel like at that moment. If I feel like moving the item I will, if I feel like shooting it with item in place, I will, or if I feel the item ruins the shot I won't take it. Maybe it depends on my general mood, or on how important the photo is to me... I'll have to do some more thinking about it!
 

Boid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
123
Bangalore, India
Rajiv
I started out by making sure my pictures were composed in the classical sense of getting the weight, balance, etc right within the frame. But of late I've thrown all that out of the window, or at least I don't think about it as much as I used to. I shoot to capture details now, expression and motion, etc. The composition bit is done in post, or I just ignore it. Of course the offshoot is that none of my pals like my pictures any more. Ha!
 

ajramirez

Hall of Famer
Jul 9, 2010
124
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Antonio
I've been meaning to start this thread for months ... not sure whether this is a "watering hole" kind of thread or a "philosophy" kind of thread ... but certainly not a deadly serious one.

I know that I apply "rules" to the pictures I take ... one is that when I'm out and about snapping, if I see an image I want but it's marred by - say - a cigarette end or a bit of grass in the wrong place, rather than move the offending item, I won't take the photo ... now this has nothing to do with some convoluted ethical standpoint of mine that a photograph must "reflect reality" or whatever, it's just something I won't do ... completely irrational!

I'm interested to know what self-imposed rules others might have ... this isn't about shoulds and shouldn'ts, just about what personal rules you apply to how you exercise your hobby ...
No self imposed rules for me. In the situation you describe, I probably would not want to touch a used cigarette, but certainly would kick it out of the way. Grass I would certainly move, no problem. And it that fails, there is always the Spot Healing Brush, which I use without the slightest bit of remorse.

I really can only think of one rule I apply, which is not to photograph anybody in a situation they may find uncomfortable or embarrassing. Often times when I have done it, I end up deleting the file, even if it may be a compelling photograph.

While not a rule per se, I do set a benchmark of sorts for me when I go shooting, which is I should get between 3 and 5 good shots per outing. By "good" I mean something that I would add to my Flickr stream. Turns out to be about a 10% hit ratio when shooting film, and quite a bit less when shooting digital.

Cheers,

Antonio
 

grebeman

Old Codgers Group
Paul,

For me it depends on the situation. If I was doing natural history type photography, say a plant or flower, then if there was an "offending" leaf or blade of grass that spoilt the composition I'd certainly "garden" and remove said offending object. Equally you might have noticed in my recent couple of posts there are no "spectators" in shot, the only people are those that are directly involved in the activity photographed, that's as much to convey the sense of having gone back in time that I felt the subject matter demanded, I wanted to show an historic activity as close to it's original as I possibly could.

Barrie
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
As far as I'm aware of my rules, I like to believe that I, too, will not use a photograph of anyone in a situation that they might consider embarrassing or uncomfortable. Fortunately, my husband is not easily embarrassed.:wink: This is really the only rule I can think of. I am not an aggressive photographer so there are probably other rules that are subliminal.
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
I only have 3 "rules" that I follow.

1. Never injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. I obey orders given to me by others, except where such orders would conflict with the first rule.
3. I protect my own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second rules.

Otherwise that's pretty much it. Oh yeah, and if it's Tuesday, I try to take a photo of myself (or someone else) face-down. (and you thought YOU were a freak?)
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
oh greyelm.....that was first and foremost in my mind when I started and I have forgotten. I'm constantly re-cropping. I've gotten either stupid or lazy or both. It's the #1 simplest thing to do to make nearly any photo better. Thanks for the reminder.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
If I see an untoward cigarette butt or bits of grass and twigs that have gone awry my first assumption is that the more interesting photograph will be based on THAT, rather than whatever its in the way of. What's the old saying - you should always try to take the photograph nobody else would take? That's the goal anyway - I usually fail, but that's the way my mind works or fails to - your call on that one... Otherwise, I don't have any rules. If I'm out shooting people, I'm looking for an interesting moment first and foremost and if I can manage a half decent composition in the midst of it, so much the better. If I'm out shooting architecture or abstracts or blades of grass or whatever, ALL I'm ever looking for is an interesting image, which is usually most likely to happe if I manage to see some everyday thing in a way most people wouldn't look at it, including a cigarette butt or a nasty stain on the sidewalk. The very best example of such a photograph I can use to illustrate the goal I've yet to achieve but keep trying for is Edward Weston's bell pepper photo (I know, he did a lot of them, but there was that one....), whereby the bell pepper is used to form one of the most sensuous and beautiful black and white images ever, evocative of nothing so much as a beautiful female nude. I'll never come even remotely close to that, but that's what I'm always trying to go for. So, no, definitely no firm rules going in. Except in terms of shooting people - there are certain types of things I just won't do and if I do them accidentally while out shooting, the files never see the light of day.

-Ray
 

Boid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
123
Bangalore, India
Rajiv
This made me laugh out loud. Didn't Assimov add a fourth rule later?

I only have 3 "rules" that I follow.

1. Never injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. I obey orders given to me by others, except where such orders would conflict with the first rule.
3. I protect my own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second rules.

Otherwise that's pretty much it. Oh yeah, and if it's Tuesday, I try to take a photo of myself (or someone else) face-down. (and you thought YOU were a freak?)
 
Jun 3, 2012
103
Melbourne. Australia
Joe
I don't know enough about what I WANT to shoot nor HOW to shoot it to impose too many rules on myself....I figure that in time I may come to define both a style and a technique to my photography, in the meantime it's enough to just go out and have fun shooting. I essentially go out with 1 rule: DO NOT drop the camera...you can't afford another !
 

nippa

Top Veteran
Aug 7, 2010
104
Cheshire UK
Dennis
The only rule I follow is not publish images of people without their consent.
For me that rules out most street photography unless it's in a tourist area where public photography can be anticipated.
 

Landshark

PhotoDog
Jul 15, 2010
124
SoCal
Bob
my only rule for my personal work, if one wants to call it that, is do not shoot anything that is not interesting, whether it is light, subject or action. Even though I have no reservations of reworking the image in post production, I will always try my best to fill the frame with what I think the final image should contain. I guess that is something leftover from shooting 35mm film.
I am also more in agreement with Ray, many perceived flaws in the subject are what makes the image better.
 
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Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Dec 6, 2011
123
Let's see...

I won't take photos of people that do not want me to take their photo. Sometimes I will get shots of people without their knowing but if it is something that feels wrong like a crying homeless man [they don't need more to prey on them] or a woman with her dress blown up over her head [that's not at all Marilyn] then I won't do it. That's not to say I won't photograph a park bench sleeper or a woman with an inverted umbrella. And if anyone asks me to delete having seen me take it, I will. I don't stand behind 'rights' over human respect.

With objects, in nature I won't damage the area around me to get a shot. Pruning a couple leaves or a blade of grass I will do but I will not pull several flowers off a plant to photograph just one without the surrounding ones. *A bought bouquet is different. If I see a nut or seed pod, or a dead insect, I might set it on something else when I photograph. I'm just as much a part of nature as the bird that plucks up a bug and drops half of it or the cat that catches a bird and abandons it. I can pick it up and move it, a rock, a colorful leaf, a tin can and put it somewhere else too. It's all fair.

As for composing I get the best angle I can in-camera, if I have to move things a little I do, if I have to crop later I will or a touch of cloning is not out of question. Film photographers dodged and burned and cropped and etc etc.. long before digital. In camera software can miniaturize, cross-process, convert to sepia or black and white.. it is no more purist than doing it later on a computer. What I do not do is alter an image by cloning things out or placing things in and declare that it was taken like that. I do not lie about what I did. Doing is fine to me, art is art, lying and saying it was like that and you just shot the photo is not. If a photo is manipulated and I am asked I will say it is.

...that's basically it.

LOL Luke you do the face down thing? For a brief time I took photos of my daughter planking-- not dangerous of course but amusing ones. She put them on her blog so it was for her, not me, but it was silly and fun.
 

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
123
Ah thanks all, I think we're getting some interesting responses now (although Luke, by the sounds of things, has been shaking up Manhattens a bit early in the day)

Remember I'm not asking about what you think makes for a good photograph (or advice about whether to leave in - or out - grass stems or cigarette ends :)), but personal photographic foibles - what will you do, what won't you do, what do you feel you must do, mustn't do ... Bob's "always fill the frame" is a really excellent example
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
LOL Luke you do the face down thing? For a brief time I took photos of my daughter planking-- not dangerous of course but amusing ones. She put them on her blog so it was for her, not me, but it was silly and fun.
FWIW, I was doing it before it was called "planking" so I don't adhere to being like a plank aspect all the time. Here's a link to most of my shots. It's just something I do to keep from turning into an old man.....
Face-Down Tuesday - a set on Flickr
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Dec 6, 2011
123
FWIW, I was doing it before it was called "planking" so I don't adhere to being like a plank aspect all the time. Here's a link to most of my shots. It's just something I do to keep from turning into an old man.....
Face-Down Tuesday - a set on Flickr
I like the one where you are spilling out of the car, the one with the CD [Falling Down], the one with the miniature you by the mushroom, No Lifeguard On Duty is funny... It's a nifty personal work. I am not good at self photographing. Mess up on distances etc as far as getting myself in frame clearly. I've heard self portraiture is one of the best ways to practice but it seems like you have far more creative places to do that than I do. I know excuses excuses :D
 

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