Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Let’s Break Some Rules!

My name is Scott Martin. I’m a photographer.

When I was 12 years old, my uncle Claud gave me a Konica 35mm SLR camera with a 50mm lens for Christmas. He also handed me my first 5 rolls of black and white film and I spent the entire day shooting the family activities as he taught me how to meter and set the camera for a ‘proper’ exposure. This kind man had invited me into an exciting new world and I was hooked from day one.

That was the simple beginning that led to decades of happiness behind a camera. I spent years studying photos in magazines and reading books and articles about gear, lighting, and the rules of composition. I shot countless rolls of film. I set up my own darkroom and did my own black and white processing and prints. I learned to dodge and burn, and massage an image to match, as closely as possible, what was in my head when I took the shot.

Now we come to the rules. All that study was focused on portraits. I loved capturing that moment. The one split second everyone else seemed to miss. What were the ‘rules’ for portraits? Well, everyone I spoke to who knew anything about portrait photography seemed to have a few rules of thumb in common.
  1. Never shoot a portrait with anything wider than a 70mm lens.
  2. Never shoot a portrait in midday light.
  3. Never ever shoot a woman from a low perspective.
  4. Never ever shoot a woman close up with a wide angle lens.
  5. Select a great location for your shot. Don’t just shoot in a parking lot or some such place.
Now, let’s break some rules….


This shot was taken in a parking lot, under midday sun, using a 24mm lens, from a low perspective, up close and personal. There was no flash, no reflector, and no diffuser. My wife and I were walking out of a restaurant after a nice lunch when I turned around and saw this shot. I knew right away it would be cool. “Babe, don’t move!” She’s married to a photographer, so she’s used to this. She stopped and I went low, composed the shot and released the shutter. Is it perfect? Nope. I see flaws in every image I take. But I like it. And it’s been one of the most liked and commented shots I’ve posted online so far. It breaks a lot of ‘rules’. But then again… I’ve always been that kind of person. Just ask my wife (Love ya, Babe!).

In the end, the only rule that matters is, follow your vision. Trust your instincts.

Oh… and always carry your camera!

Thanks for reading.

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