Never Shoot Into the Sun

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

Yesterday Morkel posted this blog in which he discussed some photographic rules and how they should sometimes be broken.

Could not agree with him more and wanted to add my own voice to this topic.

I remember an incident a year or so ago where an incredibly talented young wildlife photographer was told to join the local camera club as it is the next step to him becoming a better photographer.

Seriously?  That’s a step to becoming a better photographer?

So our young photographer goes off to his first meeting and presents an image very similar to Morkel’s fish eagle shot but in a landscape format – great image but the wings were also clipped off on both sides.

What followed was a bunch of photographers – and in this particular case I use the word very lightly – lambasting this poor kid for not following the ‘rules that makes an image great’.

Nice.  That’s how to nurture young talent – sarcasm yes?- but I reckon there is way more to it than that.

How can anyone expect, in an environment which is so rule and structure driven, to be creative?

To push the boundaries of photography, of art, which should come from a deeper, more personal place?

This young photographer created an image, and it was a great image, but was shot down because it did not follow the rules.

Rule of thirds?

Yes, there is probably a solid theory behind it and it’s valuable to know about it, but by placing a crappy and boring subject on one of the power points where the thirds of the frame intersect, you simply end up with an image of a crappy and boring subject which is a little more dynamic.

Better?  Not necessarily.

If you only shoot according to the rules of photography you will end up with images that look like everybody else’s and like Morkel mentions in his post, it will kill your creativity.

Don’t follow the rules.  Don’t try and shoot like anybody else.  Don’t shoot for feedback from people you don’t even know or whose work you don’t like or respect.

Shoot what you see.  Tell the stories in your own way.  Enjoy the process.

By doing this you will create authentic images.  Your images.

By doing this you will not be blocking yourself or your creativity by rules, expectations or trying to find your own style. (A topic for another time.)

Always use the rule of thirds to place your subject.

Never shoot straight into the sun.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography


Rules will not make you create better images.

Passion, practise and being true to your subject will.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Eddie van Halen who originally said “The hell with the rules. If it sounds right, then it is.

Slightly adjusted for our purposes…

The hell with rules.  If it feels and looks right to you, then it is!

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

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