Should you follow the photography rules or not?
“Photography has no rules, it is not a sport. It is the result which counts, no matter how it is achieved.” – Bill Brandt
When people talk to me about photography is always funny. Although I had studied photography technical details, composition, raw format, exposure, ISO, etc., and surely sometimes I follow it, the thing about my photography is exactly that I don't like to follow the rules, at all! My photography is purely driven by my feelings, how I feel towards that place or situation, how I love to frame that moment so I can see it later in a total black and white atmosphere, possibly noir, dark, gloomy, hypnotic for my eyes. Sometimes it's hard to explain what goes on my mind. And I try to explain it throughout my photos. All the silhouettes, the rain, winter...all the European vibe, which happens to be my favorite spot in the world, where I truly admire how people live and care more about themselves then the others. All this to say, yes, I love photos that are moving, out of focus, blurred, flair, not boring to see and sometimes unable to identifying it. I love when the public come to me and interpret it!
Once I was in Budapest shooting at night, near the Parliament, and Budapest in my opinion is even more dazzling during late night when all the city is golden and vibrant. Actually is without any doubt one of the most beautiful cities to photograph. Ask any photographer who has been there and he or she will tell you the same thing. As I was by the Danube river (simply alluring) a man stopped me to ask the focus, aperture, ISO, zoom, focus, etc. I mean, really? He bombed me with so many questions that I just stood there looking at him. I mean, please, a bit of politeness won't kill anyone right? I'm not a super social person, but come on, I love when people are polite and surprise me.
I don't like when I'm photographing and people stop me out of blue to ask me what kind of pictures will come out from that moment. That's one of the reasons I'm always photographing alone. It's already hard to photograph with that bunch of tourists disturbing nice places where photographers struggle to have a single moment with the subject. When people impolitely bothers you, is even worse. I'm sure if you photograph, you will understand what I'm talking about.
With that said, my whole point is: don't be hard on yourself about the perfect shot. The more you practice it, the better you get. The perfect shot is the one you love. For when you love what you do, people will notice it. It does not matter if it is the perfect composition or the most abstract one. Make your own rules. Of course, learn from the masters. Study them. Especially the old ones: Robert Capa, Brassaï, Inge Morath, Willy Ronis, Robert Doisneau, André Kertész, etc., are just a few of the names I strongly recommend.
For instance: Henri Cartier-Bresson was obviously too good, I love his work, but he was also a villain. Yes. Think about all the rules that literally ruled his photography: no wide-angle lenses nor telephoto lens, no crop, no flash, no color, etc. And in his late life he stopped photographing and said:
“Photography isn’t as legitimate as painting. Painting is the ultimate visual-art-form.” Henri Cartier-Bresson
In my opinion, he was so hard on himself, he simply gave up to evolve in photography. So for the rest of his life he painted, a work for which he will not be remember of, a work that was nothing compared to his magnificent photos.
Sometimes in order to get one single good shot, I stay hours in a single spot. Sounds dramatic, I know, but it’s true. Then when I see at least 50 shots of the same subject, and I see one photo I really wanted it, then it’s indeed a very good day! The kind of thing that makes me smile and passionate about my work.
One of the best things that happened to me since I started with street photography is that I learn how to see everything in a different perspective. When people ask me what I love to photography, immediately the words that comes out of my mouth are: winter, rain, night, silhouettes, shadows, noir atmosphere. Why? Most of people don’t like winter. Hate rain. And run away from sinister alleys. For me is exactly the opposite. I’m drawn into that kind of situation, because I see it differently. It’s like I’m sinking into an old movie, where I seek characters from the past, moments on which my public won’t be able to identify the right period of that picture (new cars are elements that always raise difficulties in my photos, one of the reasons that I love vintage cars, not the new ones).
So don’t be afraid to try new things, experiment new compositions, different angles, new editions, giving new meanings through your look. Show the public what you meant with that photo. Discipline your mind, be sensitive, not only technical, work your eyes, respect the subject, enjoy the moment, don’t take it too seriously, and keep it simply. Less is more.