When I started with Flickr in June 2009 I quickly made a set of rules for myself. This was a simple little thing I did just to keep me from going too far with a hobby, narrowing it down a little. I am an illustrator by profession, that’s my dayjob, someone said that making illustrations is “creating art under circumstances” ( I couldn’t find the exact quote, I’ll edit a link in if I find it). I like that definition and I like working under circumstances. With my set of rules I created the most convenient circumstances myself.
My rules for shooting plastic:
1: Don’t buy items to shoot, use only what you already have.
(I broke this when I realized I was stealing toys from the kid.)
2: Use only materials you have at home.
(Until when we ran out of baking powder and I had to buy some more.)
3: Do not photoshop the photographs.
(This means no added elements from other frames, no photomanipulation. Only adjustments to colour and contrasts and removal of supports and dust.)
4: Don’t force it, have fun!
(If you don’t feel like photographing, don’t.)
Yes, I broke all the rules eventually but I played by them for a long, long time. The rules challenged me to find anything interesting closer than I probably would have otherwise. Experimenting with stuff already in our home was a lot of fun, more fun than, say, going online and ordering a ton of artifical snow. Granted, a ton of artifical snow can be fun but it is not rewarding, there is no heureka moment in that. I liked how the process was very informal and loose.
Did all this help me to become a better photographer? I do not know, but it made the process a whole lot more meaningful.
Later on I added a few more rules after the originals were given some room:
5: Stick with Star Wars original trilogy, if possible.
(Still not to interfere with the kid’s toys too much, adds to the “circumstances”.)
6: Do not count likes
(It draws your attention to the secondary things and drains fun from the fun. Deviation to the rule: I used to be a stats junkie, it’s easier now.)
7: Be honest, never lie to your audience.
(Do not make yourself look better than you actually are by pretense, don’t wear other people’s ideas as your own.)
Everything I post goes through a process of passing all these rules but it’s not really a conscious thing, I don’t think about it. I become aware of the rules if I am about to cheat with them. With rule #3 cheat only with something I know I actually could have achieved in-camera, only I was too lazy to rig and tune it. Rule #2 has been seriously violated with some of my recent purchases. It’s shameful, really. Almost. :)
Basically, if it’s fun, I may bend the rules a little (rule #4), but I try not to.
Full time illustrator, part time photographer. As such, I created blizzards with Star Wars Lego and had an influence on how The Lego Movie looks like.