Tag Archives: Breal the rules

Wrong is Sometimes Right…. and other considerations

JACK GRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY www.jackgrahamphoto.com

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I’ll be in Jacksonville Florida for the North American Nature Photography ( NANPA)  Summit Feb 28-Mar 3rd. This should be a great event with some great speakers (come here my friend Guy Tal!), breakout sessions and lots of learning and networking. Details can be found HERE.

I am proud to also announce that I’ve been asked so serve on NANPA’s Board of Directors.

I am featured in an article in Outdoor Photography Magazine ( published in the UK) this coming month called “Great Escapes—Wildflowers”—you can read it Here:

In addition to our (almost full) July 4-14, 2013 Ultimate Iceland Workshop, we have added a second workshop in July with a completely different itinerary. You can access this information here. Again, seats on this workshop are limited.



You can see some images made my last year’s attendees here http://jackgraham.photoshelter.com/gallery/2012-ICELAND-WORKSHOP-ATTENDEE-IMAGES/G0000dpVO0jXHKCI/

This October, will be my 19th year conducting a workshop in the Eastern Sierra. Again, I’ll be joining forces with my good friend, an amazing photographer and thinker, and co-leader Guy Tal. Please consider joining us. This is a highlight of the year!. Details found HERE.

Also in October, I’ll be back in NE Ohio  for  our bi-annual FALL COLOR & A DAY with the AMISH PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP. (including a private Amish dinner) with my Amish friends on their farm in Sugarcreek Ohio. I’ll be teaming up with my good friend, world class photographer and teacher Bill Fortney(www.billfortney.com) for a workshop you will not want to miss! I’ll be in Utah October 2013 for a late October workshop in the red rock country in and around Zion NP

I receive many requests for the link the webinar I conducted  for NIK SOFTWARE entitled, “Keeping it Simple .You can view it here: ( if you purchase any or all of the NIK Software package… enter code JGRAHAM and receive a 15% discount!!! HERE is the link to the webinar


Wrong is Sometimes Right….. And other considerations.

text and images ©Jack Graham / Jack Graham Photography unless noted

There are a few traps that we photographers fall into at times that hinder our creativity. Perhaps the main trap often encountered is following rules especially when it comes to composition.

The four main rules most often considered are the rule of thirds, reading an image from left to right, avoiding having the horizon centered and finally,  not putting the center of interest in the center of the image. All are valid, however if you disregard these rules and the image in the end, “works”, is not the image a valid one?

Take the famous image by Ansel Adams, “Moonrise over Hernandez” 1941. How many of these rules were broken here? Many, however, this image works and  it is an extremely strong one at that.


What is important to a photography  is to make your image tell a story. Make it meaningful. If it means breaking the rules is necessary, by all means consider doing just that.  I see so many images in areas of immense beauty and natural wonderment that really don’t say anything about the location or tell a story. These snapshots are just that, nothing more than a post card. By just following rules, images are not guaranteed to deliver a message. Images that are made in haste are more often than not, doomed to fail. It is imperative to slow down, consider all aspects and above all strive to make a well thought out image. Knowing the basics of composition, but learning to see and think creatively as well as learning how to to deal with all of the above,  is the bedrock of making good photographs. Knowing how to make a strong image sometimes requires breaking the rules.

Consulting the rules of composition before taking a photograph, is like consulting the laws of gravity before going for a walk. …Edward Weston

©Ansel Adams


  Avoiding distractions

Unless you are always thinking about distractions,   we don’t often see things in the image that take away from the story. In order to make the subject primary, we have to be constantly aware of the entire frame and distracting areas that affect the subject. Distractions are weaknesses in your image. Strive to eliminate any and all weakness  in every image. If you need to make a crop in post processing, then do it. Experiment with different size formats for your image. Don’t be afraid to break the rules if it makes your image stronger.

LANPJT9_1003_1844   One of the things that I personally dislike in an image is framing the image with another object.  Many folks really love this technique. I really do not care for it. Consider the image on the left

What is wrong with this image? First, look at the distraction in the lower right hand corner. ( the small green part of a Joshua tree). Why is that even in the frame?   What is the story that is being told here?  Is it about the Joshua tree and where it lives? Perhaps. There is another Joshua tree in the image along with some recognizable rocks in the background trying to tell the viewer about the environment. The bigger problem here is the framing of the background….. using this Joshua tree as the frame. How does the form of this tree relate to the background? It doesn’t, and  if anything  it blocks the background out almost entirely. The tree is very overbearing and detracts from the story of the image. The form of the tree does not relate to the image at all. Also the image itself is cut off by the tree trunk. This is an example is that of just making a photograph without seeing in a photo-graphical way.

I like to feel that all my best photographs had strong personal visions and that a photograph that doesn’t have a personal vision or doesn’t communicate emotion fails”……Galen Rowell.   

At times framing can be used effectively, but rarely.

As another example, please consider the image as well.


A few rules were broken here. The red barn in centered. However I don’t mind that it is in this image. The tree in the upper right is almost, but not quite a frame for the barn. The one aspect that saves this image is that the strong foreground of the blowing green grasses are pulling your eye from bottom right up to the upper left as  These patterns ( right to left are repeated in the form of the tree limb on the top. The framing technique used here adds to the composition and not detract or disrupt it.


I like to feel that all my best photographs had strong personal visions and that a photograph that doesn’t have a personal vision or doesn’t communicate emotion fails”……Galen Rowell.

Slow and Slower

We have to really slow down and consider another variable when making the image. Consider how much of the subject you really can fit in your frame and will the viewer see on your photograph what you viewed in real time. If the subject is too far away, it will become irrelevant. This is a common mistake. When in the field I see other photographers taking many, many, more images than I as if it;s almost as if it’s a compulsion.  I can almost tell that they are not taking the things into account they are primary to making a good photograph.  Strive to tell an interesting story in every image and make an impact full statement in every image. Consider every image on its own merit. You’ll become a better photographer. Sometimes a picture in your mind is better than the one you just tried to take.


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