3 (More) Things You Believe to Be True About Photography That are False

Photos Should Always Convey the Truth

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Unless you’re a photojournalist, your photos do not have to convey the truth. Photography is an art, and as such, you have the creative freedom to do with your compositions what you want. What’s more, it’s often difficult to achieve a completely truthful photo anyway because the way you frame or crop the image, for example, means that you’re excluding something. Doing so bends the truth just a little, right? What’s more, how you create your photo may or may not jive with how people perceive it. You might create an image that you feel conveys a bright, cheerful mood, but a viewer might interpret it as being something else entirely.

Striving for the truth in your images is an admirable undertaking, but no matter how candid the shot, no matter how little post-processing you do, images can easily distort reality. Embrace this quality and focus on being artful and creative instead.

Shooting at f/2.8 Gets Better Photos

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Sure, if you’re taking a portrait, f/2.8 will get you a better image than if you try to shoot the same image at f/16. The shallow depth of field you get with f/2.8 creates gorgeous bokeh-filled, blurry backgrounds that help the subject stand out.

But shooting at f/2.8 isn’t always the way to go. Not every photo you take needs a shallow depth of field. Not every background needs to be blurred. In fact, there are times when the subject matter calls for a large depth of field so that you can more effectively convey the context of the situation. Landscapes certainly come to mind as being subject matter that necessitates shooting with a smaller aperture, but so too does street photography, nature and wildlife photography, and travel photography, to name but a few.

Though it’s fun to shoot wide-open, it’s not a given that doing so will get you better photos. Match your aperture to the context to have greater success.

My Photos Suck if They Aren’t Perfect

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Much like striving to create a truthful image, creating a technically perfect image is a tough task. Even the most veteran photographers can’t create an image that is perfect from corner to corner. More often than not, there is a compositional element missing or misused, an area that’s too dark or too bright, or a subject that isn’t quite aligned with the rule of thirds grid. And that’s okay!

The imperfection in the photos you create doesn’t mean that your images are terrible. Despite a less than ideal exposure, you can still have a wildly interesting and visually stimulating photo. Even though your subject looked away just as you clicked the shutter doesn’t mean the portrait you create of them should be deleted. The point is that if you find that one of your images isn’t quite exposed right or that it isn’t as sharp as you’d like, don’t automatically write it off. There’s much more to a compelling photo than technical perfection.

Just go out and shoot, stop worrying about being perfect, and leave your false beliefs about photography behind. You’ll have more fun, and probably get better results too!

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