Photo Challenge - Break the rules

Are you a rule breaker? We spend an awful amount of time discussing photo composition rules. While they are pretty reliable tools for helping you create a great photo, they aren’t commandments. You can break them. So let’s do that. Every now and then, breaking a rule might yield the better photograph. 

When would that be? There’s no rule on when to break the rules, but there is the caution that you need to understand rules before you break them. You should have a pretty good reason why breaking a rule is the best option. Sometimes, you just go with your instinct.

Instinct guided me to break the tried and true Rule of Thirds rule when I was taking these shots at an Arlington National Cemetery burial ceremony. You remember that the Rule of Thirds says the least interesting place for you to place your subject is the center of the frame. I remembered, too, and then that is exactly where I put my subject.


I can’t point to an exact reason why I centered this shot, except the symmetry worked for me. The flag is my focal point, and with a low angle, I stuck it square in the middle of the frame. I think the row of soldiers on each side of the flag begs for that kind of precision. I could easily have stood on either side of the soldiers, but for me, it wouldn’t have the same effect.


Normally when you photograph a person, you stand at a 45 degree angle to great a sense of depth. You would also have the person facing into the frame to create nose room and movement into the frame. I broke both rules for this photo of a ceremonial honor guard. For me, it just had more impact.


Take the challenge

What about you? What rule can you break? Take a photograph where you break a long-established rule of composition. If you need a reminder, pick any of our 21-Week Composition Challenges. Tell us which rule you broke and why.


Share your photos

Once you have a great photo, post it in the comments or in our Google + Photo Projects 2013 community, or liink them in the comments.

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