The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

What should be done and what can be done

“There are no rules for art” – David duChemin

Rules introduce the idea of how something should be done. One can see them as instructions that have to be followed obediently.

They are useful and necessary to cooperation. However, that’s only true when there are few of them when they exist for well-determined purposes, and if people feel accountable for them.

If there is for example a rule to show up on time for meetings and no one speaks up when people start to come late, one can assume that the culture will shift to one where arriving late to meetings is the habit. Then it’s a rule that didn’t serve its purpose and has become superfluous if not counterproductive.

Rules are the area of how things should be done.

When David duChemin shares that there are no rules for art, he does so, because art is based on principles. These principles describe, for example, elements of composition that work. By using them you choose to combine elements of composition in such a way that they contribute to communicating the story you want to share with your picture. Or as Irving Penn said, you’ve created a good photograph that “is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, affective.”

Following principles means making decisions. In photography, it means to constantly decide how you choose to apply the principles while making a picture.

It doesn’t happen when you “take a picture”, it takes a bit of a learning journey to become accustomed to the principles and develop your way of using them, but then you start making pictures.

The same applies to the way teams work together or how one leads teams. There are principles you can base your work on.

Principles are the area of how things can be done. They are creating possibilities.

What it also means, is that you can’t copy someone else.

The art is to learn how you make your decisions.


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