Photography’s #1 Rule – I Don’t Care


There are so many reasons why we pick up a camera to capture a slice of time. The most likely reason is that some significant event is about to occur and we want to record a visual memory of that period of time in our lives. However, the reasons we press the shutter are endless and can be as mundane as taking a snapshot of the OPEN HOURS sign on the door or window of a business we just visited at the wrong time. Photography enthusiasts take a different approach. Yes, they’ll take a camera to a birthday party and they’ll snap a shot of a take-out menu for reference but for a hobbyist photographer it always goes beyond that, sometimes too far.

Substation – Canonet QL19 – Fujicolor 200 – 45mm f1.9 – f16 1/500

When I first started my journey into photography as a hobby I learned that it was considered an art. The idea of art scared me but I also discovered photography was full of rules. Rights and wrongs. In fact, photography has so many rules, it might have more unwritten rules than any other form of art.  This abundance of rules was one of the major factors that allowed me to keep an interest in photography when I first started. I’ve always believed myself to be artistically void. But when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of a definitive process I usually excel. In beginning, I wrongly assumed, that once I learned, practiced and mastered all the “rules” I’d be a great photographer. Through those beginning years, I spent a lot of time reading and considering the rules of photography but as the time passed my thoughts and understanding of the rules have slowly changed.

Stairway Railing – Minolta X-700 – Fujicolor 200 – Rokkor-X 35mm f2.8 – f4 1/45

Years ago, I used to always shoot trying to respect the rules, and even worse, I’d shoot to please others. Exposure, focus, and composition had to be perfect. I didn’t realize it then but I was shooting more for the rules than myself. Recently, I’ve discovered Street Photography and because of it, I’ve radically changed my thinking about the rules. When I’m shooting this style of photography my mind allows me to press the shutter when I feel the need to instead of when I believe all rules are in place that allow me to press the shutter. I still try to respect those hand-cuffing photography rules but now most of the time when I shoot I follow my favorite photography rule that I ignored for years. “I Don’t Care!.”

Bird House – Canonet QL19 – Fujicolor 200 – 45mm f1.9 – f11 1/250

Film photography has become an extension of this new “I Don’t Care!” rule and attitude when I shoot. My digital photography had become filled with negative thoughts of . . . I’ve shot this before . . . the background is wrong . . . crappy light . . . etc. My changing view of the rules first started with my Street Photography but the discovery of film photography has helped me open up the “I Don’t Care!” floodgates. Now I see something that I suspect is interesting but I’m unsure how it will look once it’s been captured because some aspect of it doesn’t conform to the traditional rules. Instead of passing on the moment, I’ll now apply my “I Don’t Care!” attitude and it helps me reach for my camera. Regardless if I have a digital or a film camera in my hand, I am now much more likely to recognize and react to a moment that I should be photographing.

In your photography, I challenge you to consider how much your respect of the photography rules are getting in your way of recognizing those key moments and to consider adopting the “I Don’t Care!” attitude more frequently.

I encourage you to follow along on my film adventures. You can subscribe via email or click the “follow” button in the bottom right corner if you’re a WordPress reader.

Camera Donation Page

My Film Beginnings Project has also intrigued me to try using other 35mm film cameras along the way. If you have a working 35mm film camera that you no longer use please take a look here to see what I’m thinking. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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