If one shows one’s photographs to other photographers in order to get constructive feedback, the advice one receives is very often not to follow blindly any rules of composition. If one always takes photos following the rule of thirds or according to the golden ratio, one starts growing used to thinking in conventions, which can have a negative impact on one’s creative potential. However, in my opinion, one has to know the rules before one can break them. 😉 The “rules” are not rules as such – laws a photographer always has to obey – instead they are more like “guidelines” which can make composing a photo easier. The aim of every photographer should be to know all the rules of composition, but also to know perfectly when to chuck them out of the window. 😉
Unfortunately, it can take quite some time to get familiar with all the rules, simply because there are so many of them. The rule of thirds and the golden ratio are, in fact, only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more, less known rules, but which, if applied well, can lead to very expressive photos. The following video by The Cooperative of Photography gives an excellent overview over the most important ones. Each one of the nine rules is presented using a number of carefully selected photographs by Steve McCurry, a true master of photography.