Top 10 Photography Myths Debunked

Most of us have fallen victim to a common photography misconception at one point or another. Whether it’s assuming that a new camera will make you a better photographer, or the all-too-common “never use the on-camera flash”, professionals and beginners alike each have their own set of informal rules that they stick by.

But while rules are important, limiting yourself to rules can stifle your ability to be creative and in some cases, can actually be detrimental to your photography. Rules are there to help, but sometimes breaking the rules can result in an image that’s far more visually striking.

The Photographer
photo by Norbert Reimer

Read on to see ten commonly circulated myths regarding photography. Separate fact from fiction, and find out which so-called photography rules can be broken.

  1. Myth: Photography Is Easy

    Photography is a lot of things, but it isn’t easy. Sure. It’s easy to take a picture – pick up the camera, and push a button. But mastering the art of creating compelling photographs that are aesthetically appealing to not only yourself – but others as well takes time, patience, and lots of practice.

    Over time, it may become easier to remember rules and settings –but photography isn’t something that most photographers would ever call “easy”.

  2. Myth: Avoid Shooting in Bad Lighting

    There’s no such thing as bad lighting. As long as there is some source of light – you will always have the opportunity to take great photographs. Don’t limit yourself to only shooting during specific lighting conditions.

    Being able to make the most of the light at hand is an important skill for a photographer to have, and will enable you to capture photos in all different lighting conditions.

  3. Myth: Always Use the Rule of Thirds

    The rule of thirds calls for the main focal points of an image to be placed on the thirds sections of an image. While a great rule of thumb – there are times when the image will call for something different, and don’t hesitate to stray from this rule when it best serves the composition.

    For example, subjects with symmetry often benefit by being placed in the center of an image, rather than to the side.

  4. Myth: Always Keep the Horizon Line Straight

    While keeping the horizon straight is crucial for landscape photography, in some cases, tilting the camera to make the horizon appear diagonal can create a dynamic image that conveys a sense of action and excitement. Some compositions can especially benefit from camera tilt.

    Use this technique to add a sense of movement, speed, or energy to an image.

  5. Myth: Never Shoot Into the Sun

    It’s often said that when shooting portraits; shoot with the sun at your back. This is so that your subjects will appear evenly lit with fewer shadows. But in some cases, shooting into the sun can result in some beautiful images. Facing the sun allows you to capture beautiful backlighting, and can be a great way to captures some unique and interesting images of your subject.

  6. Myth: Good Photographers Never Use the On-Camera Flash

    While it’s true that the on-camera flash can produce some ghastly results, in some cases, the pop-up flash can be a lifesaver.

    The secret is knowing when to use it, and how. Scenarios where the on-camera flash can come in handy include using it as a fill flash when shooting in bright sun or diffusing or bouncing the flash.

  7. Myth: Avoid Post Processing Your Images

    This can go both ways. While some hold fast to their belief that post processing should be avoided at all costs, others go all out and post process every photo. The truth is that the best option lies somewhere in the middle. Post processing and editing images in Lightroom or Photoshop can enhance an image, but don’t expect it to rescue a poorly composed photo.

    However, many images require just a touch of processing to help bring out their fullest potential, and even professionals use post processing to help an image to look its best.

  8. Myth: Manual is the Best Camera Mode

    While shooting in manual can offer better control over the lighting and depth of field, it is not necessarily the “best” camera mode. The best mode is the one that allows you the most control over the results of an image – and that varies greatly from situation to situation. In some scenarios, like where you are required to work fast or in quickly changing conditions, shooting in another mode might actually suit your needs better.

    While you shouldn’t be afraid to shoot in manual – don’t be afraid to switch to other modes when the situation calls for it.

  9. Myth: A Better Camera Will Make You a Better Photographer

    Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that a better camera will make you a better photographer. While equipment can help to make the job easier, ultimately the results of your photography come down to how well you use the gear that you have. Take the time to master the settings on your camera before rushing out to buy a new one. And of course, remember:

    “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” —Ansel Adams

  10. Myth: Always Steady Your Camera

    While many shots can benefit from a steady surface or tripod, sometimes, moving your camera can help to convey energy and a sense of movement. When photographing subjects that are in action, moving your camera while taking the shot can add motion blur and result in a dynamic image.

    Slow your shutter speed down to enhance the blur, and increase the sense of movement. Speed it up for sharper images.

Remember, the goal of photography isn’t to follow all of the rules, nor is it to break the rules – it is to create dynamic and visually engaging images. While following the rules can help you to achieve that, there will be times when an image calls for something a bit different. Don’t be afraid to break the rules as the composition requires. Focus on the image that you’re trying to create, and the compositional elements will fall into place.

Have fun practicing, and don’t forget to share your images with us via Twitter or Facebook! What about you? Which photography myths have you come across?

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