10 Photography Rules That Were Meant To Be Broken (By Birth Photographers)

Portrait photographers are adding birth photography to their services in droves, only to be left wondering how to go from following the rules, to breaking them. We’re all familiar with the adage “break the rules like an artist”, but what does that mean? What rules are ok to break? Here are 10 Photography rules that are ok, even meant, to be broken (if you’re a birth photographer).


1) Perspective

When it comes to birth, perspective is not always a choice. While we’d love to have our pick of where to stand, that rarely happens. Birth photographers must learn how to use every inch of space they are given. Climb on things, peer through things, peek under things, go in for a blind shot. And then suddenly, being boxed into a corner doesn’t seem so restricting after all.


2) Rule of thirds

This rule states that the visual points of interest usually fall into one of the outer thirds of your frame. But symmetry in birth is like a magical unicorn sighting... artistic and unexpected. Capture it if you can!


3) Fill the frame

This is supposed to both isolate and draw focus right onto your subject. But in birth it is nearly impossible to isolate your subject, find clean backdrops, etc. Embrace the busyness and you might even find a secondary detail that’s worth highlighting.


4) Blurry is bad

There’s a difference between missed focus, and intentional blur. Intentional blur allows us to take in the scene but discover an element we might not otherwise notice.


5) Never shoot from behind

Shooting from behind your subject is an integral storytelling tool. This give layers to the story and allows the viewer to feel as if they were there.


6) Don’t shoot into the light

It goes without saying - if there’s any light at all, embrace it!


7) Negative Space

“Balance positive and negative space equally.”

Strike that. It’s ok to not have every square inch of the frame filled.


8) Stick to traditional lenses

“What is the best lens to shoot a birth?” This is the most oft asked question. Some birth photographers are loyal to primes, some are loyal to zoom, but have you ever used a non-traditional approach like free lensing at a birth? The results can be astounding.


9) Expose to the right

You’re lucky to achieve a neutral exposure when it comes to birth photography. This can be easily manipulated in post. But many a birth photographer have embraced low light with intentionally underexposed images, achieving beautiful results.


10) Active Space Rule

“When you are photographing a moving subject, you should compose the shot with more space in front of it than behind it.” Ignore that. Moms change positions regularly during birth and there’s no controlling what direction baby comes out.

Can you think of any other photography rules that were meant to be broken? Tell us in the comments!

Leilani RogersComment