One of the more intimate moments I encountered during the #baltictoysafari was a one on one talk I had with @herrsm on his expectations of our gathering on Friday afternoon, well before we really started to share toys, shoot together, create magic and embark fully on this rollercoaster of plus 24 hours shooting of plastic across cultures. It was like old friends discussing our expectations and before we knew it, we ended up on one of my favorite topics: the rules of engagement. The rules enforced by the craftsmanship; the rules of the language of writing with light.
Lots of folks today claim there are no rules. It is a most common expression heard among photographers these days, “everything goes”, “it is in the eye of the beholder” and “we should all go where no one has gone before”. In the age of social photography, a lot of us are self taught and learn the art of writing with light while we are just doing that, going along. When you post and which hashtag you select is sometimes more important to the success of an image than the intrinsic value of that image, contributing to this adagio that there are no “photographic” rules.
A most interesting discussion followed and while we did not turn the #BalticToySafari into an academic exploration of photographic rules, I knew deep down a new post was upcoming.
One on rules.
Yes, there are rules, lots of rules. Ranging from the golden ratio (those lines in your viewfinder do have a meaning) over color psychology (those filters in IG are not just artistic only) to negative space and taking us into the two stream hypothesis to just name a few. The way our brain is wired to process images (read the outcome of telling and writing a story with light) follows a set of rules.
If the angle of your image is a different angle than the normal eye view of your main perceived subject, your brain by design pays more attention to the image as it is different. When you put a red object next to a green, your brain triggers a different emotional response then it would have been a blue or a different kind of red. This is not something directly related to photography but an overall rule set on how our brain processes specific combinations of shades and colours when looking at the world around us (there is a good reason why we selected the color red for the red lights at the crossing).
These are all just rules (and I am just showing the top of the iceberg) that our brain processes when we see a visual and results in an emotional response. Knowing the rules of the game, allows you to bend them and apply the magic when you want it to happen. It allows you to apply the rules, or knowingly (my absolute favorite), break them with full force and bend them around so we all become light benders.
A most interesting dilemma for us here on Stuck In Plastic. Sharing the rules, calling them out and making it all explicit and take away a part of the magic.
Yet it will enable a new level of magic, push our boundaries, and explore new rules.
Taking plastic places.