Pasadena, CANot too long ago, in the course of catching up with a client via e-mail, I was invited to a birthday party for her 5-year-old. I’m not a bad person to invite to a party, I’m quiet, I don’t eat much and I’m almost always carrying a camera.

This is my favorite photo from the party.

I imagine a lot of people will look at it and think “this is a lousy photo”. The more I look at it, the more general photo “rules” I see I broke, but despite that – or maybe because of that – the more I like it.

The first rule: Never shoot in midday light (see also: “The light at midday is awful”).  From the shadows, it’s evident that it was midday when I shot this photograph. As a matter of fact the shadows are so deep you can’t see the little girl’s face.

Second, general rule: When shooting  portraits, use a telephoto lens. I used a 35mm lens (considered a wide-angle lens). Many people would not consider this a portrait and I might not either.

Third: Use a wide aperture to blur out distracting elements in the background. I shot at f 11 or 16…. everything is in focus.

Fourth (again, a general) rule:  Grain is often considered a bad thing, so I shot with 400 iso film in bright sunlight which makes for grainier photos. Did I mention that there’s a lot of distracting elements in the background of this glaring nonportrait? I think the elements are interesting and add to the photo. As a matter of fact the highlight part of the structure behind the little girl actually helps to separate her from the background. Had that little spit of concrete that frames her tiny hands as the she reaches for bubbles not been there her arms and fingers would have been lost in the dark tones of the grass. I threw up a gallery of photos for mom, didn’t say anything except, “Here are a few photos from the party.” She said she liked them: “I like how they capture ‘the party’.  i love the bubble effect.  i like the one of ‘A’ chasing the bubble by our giant outdoor soup bowl…i mean pool.”It makes me happy when I find clients who think like I do… or maybe it’s that I think like they do.Speaking of happy, broken rules or no, in the end it’s a photo of a happy girl chasing bubbles on her birthday…. what’s not to like about that?