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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

Let Your Spirit Dance

Soft-focus impressionistic view of pink flowers in a flower garden

In photography, as in life, there are lots of rules we’re taught to follow. One of the classic textbook rules is this: Always have the main subject of the photograph in focus.

That’s a wise guideline for most pictures. But why let it (or any other rule) handcuff us on every shot?

In photography, as in life, we have to know when to follow our instincts and ignore the conventional expectations.

Last week, I was taking pictures of plants at a flower garden in the city. For the photo shown here, I first shot it the usual way, with the pink flowers in crisp focus. It looked okay – but I didn’t feel there was anything interesting, special or memorable about the image in my viewfinder.

So I tried a different approach. I turned the manual focus ring on my lens, deliberately throwing the whole scene out of focus. It’s not what the rulebook would advise, but to my eye the image was transformed into a nostalgic, impressionistic dream. Instead of flowers receding into the background, I saw three young girls from the 1800s holding hands and dancing through a field on a summer day.

Sometimes it’s good to break the rules. In photography, as in life, it’s good to give your spirit room to dance and run free.

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