Are you the toy-photographer I’m looking for?

I have read them all, the rules of photography. You have probably heard of most of them: The rule of thirds, placing focus on the eye closest to the viewer, focusing on your main motive, placing the negative space in front of the subject and not behind it, using a tripod when practicing macro-photography so you don’t get the picture unfocused because of your hand shaking and so on. I am guessing that you to have read at least one or two blog posts about these as well.

I know most of the rules of photography by heart. I use them when I take pictures, and knowing them makes me more comfortable as a photographer. Maybe it’s true that once you know the rules you can break them, but I´m not so sure. Because the theory only works if the viewer also knows the rules and knows that you’re breaking them. How do I know, that they know, the rules? If a viewer sees a blurry picture do they stay long enough to understand the picture or do they just ignore it as another picture that is lacking focus…


From my point of view there is a thrill in pictures that play with the rules. I like the idea of breaking the rules, and making “the wrong” – right! When I look at photos, I like looking at pictures that are hard to read, and I love to try to figure out if the photographer intended it to be that way, or if it just happened, by chance. I like it when a photographer intentionally challenges me and makes it difficult for me as viewer to get in to the picture. Not knowing the rules and just breaking them doesn’t intrigue me, but doing it on purpose makes me want to dig deeper in to the work of that photographer. I have a hard time finding toy-photographers that work with that idea of making “the wrong” – right!

I would like to see more toy-pictures break the rules and make a point of it, but I haven’t found many yet. Maybe you know where I should look. If you do, please let me now.



  1. Kristina,
    I don’t think I am the photographer you are looking for. Personally I finally got the hang of “Rule of Thirds” and now I am trying to figure out the “Golden Ratio”. I am not ready to break these tried and true rules, although I can see that maybe I should. I really enjoy how your photos are not hung up what people think they should be, they are what they need to be. I hope you find the photographer(s) you are looking for. 😀

  2. I’m with you Kristina, I find rule breaking photography a lot more interesting visually. I’m a big fan of centered composition, misplaced negative space, and odd centres of interest. With so many images fitting nicely into the accepted rules it’s a good way to make images stand out.

    You’re absolutely right that the viewer needs to notice that you’re breaking the rules rather than just being ignorant of them. I find breaking one rule at a time helps with that. If all of the other elements of the photo look professional then it looks more like you meant it 🙂

  3. There was a time when I broke the rules because I didn’t know about them. Now that I’ve learned, I follow them more often than not. Because it’s the right thing to do? No, because I’m not yet good enough to break them without getting caught. Will get there someday, as you have, Kristina.

    • We all do that when before we learning – breaking the rules by not knowing them. I really like your work it’s well thought trough and I look forward to the day when you fell comfortable enough to go outside the comfort-zone of the rules.

  4. Daniel Ritter

    Within the scope of toy photography that I post to Instagram, I take, perhaps, a shamefully raw “rough draft is final work” approach far more frequently than I should.

    Part of this approach is deliberate. I know myself well enough to know that once I start down the path of refinement/perfection, that I can inadvertently allow it to become debilitating. If I’m so focused on tweaking something to perfection, I get into the area of never producing anything, because nothing is good enough, ever.

    So, I’ve allowed myself to fail, often, daily, at will. I let myself be a point-and-shoot disaster if the whim is there, and it often is. Do I recommend this for anyone? Absolutely not. It’s no way to hone a craft or refine a skill or perfect a method. It’s raw and sloppy and sometimes just plain wasteful. But it is what it is.

    Within that approach, though, rules do creep in at times. Sometimes what I shoot hits on all cylinders, and in that, I have a handful of posts I’m honestly very proud of. One of those, If I recall, was mentioned a few months back here on this blog, alongside photos other photographers of a quality I greatly respect and admire (I remain flattered by the mention).

    As for interaction as response to quality as an objective measure, I do not rely on “like count” as any trusted indicator, but there is a correlation of ‘likes’ to ‘appreciation’ (of many kinds). This is not a commentary on my ability, it is a commentary on a blend of taste/engagement of my audience.

    I have a vague sense, though, when it clicks on both sides. I’ll have a notion of “I took time on this, I made choices, I was deliberate with my choices; I’m following certain rules here”, and when that’s true, the “like count” tends higher, as does comment frequency (perhaps a more in-tune barometer of the situation…).

    I don’t fit into any fenced category. I’m not a professional, not a carpet-studio kid, not a comic blogger, not a rules lawyer, and neither am I a punk rock rule breaker. What I do, though, is continue to try. I’ll try something risky, try something classic, try something boring and normal, try something corny. Doing that, I get an occasional sense of improvement.

    Am I what you’re looking for? Maybe not, but maybe.

    ig: @minifiglife

    • Of course you are you are a very good photographer… – but in this context am I looking for the abstract toy-photography and those photographs that tries to get outside of the comfort-zone of what we as an audience normally like and see. And I would like to find that… or more of that. /kristina

  5. I don’t think there are really rules in photography. They are just common patterns that makes a picture easier to read for the human eye. They have been erected to the rank of rules because they are used as guidelines to learn photography. That is probably why most people follow them: after a certain time applying them consciously you apply them instinctively. I’m in that case for toy photography. I don’t think a lot about rules, I just try to get a composition I like and very often it ends with a picture that follow for example the “rule” of thirds.

    However I doesn’t have the feeling there are less pictures braking the “rules” in toy photography than in other types of photography. At least relatively. Take for example landscape photography: most landscape photographers also compose with “rule of thirds” but if there is more pictures breaking the “rules” in absolute number it is because there are way more people taking pictures of landscapes.

    And like David siad, If I don’t break “rules” it just because I don’t have enough experience to know how to do it properly. Maybe someday we will learn to do it, or even better, maybe people that know how to do it will join the toy photography community.

    • I agree on the comment about if there is rules or just a way to describe common patterns that we like in a picture.

      I like pictures that goes outside of those patterns intentionally. And I think just saying that makes it possible that more toy-photographers will try to just do that, to experiment with the guidelines the patterns or as I called the the “rules” of photography or pictures. And doing that will make the genre bigger, and the variety even bigger in the community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.