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The New Rules of Photography

This is a chapter from the book A Lesser Photographer.

“I am not interested in rules or conventions. Photography is not a sport.” — Bill Brandt

The “rules” of photography you’ll find in most textbooks are based on economics.

These techniques work for pros trying to sell something, but have nothing to do with the photographs we (the 99.9% of photographers who are not pros) consider important.

Technique is overrated.

It’s nice to have, but many of what we would consider humanity’s most important photos of all time aren’t even in focus. They break just about every rule you’ll find in a textbook.

Those textbook rules, by the way, almost always originate with what a client wanted at some point.

There’s only one rule that matters: tell a story with a compelling subject—for you.

Think of it as a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Photographic Needs. Every decent photo needs to tell a story. Telling a story with a compelling subject can make a photo historic. But a step above even those photos is a photo with a subject that is compelling to you, specifically.