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In 1995, Danish filmmakers Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg launched Dogme 95, an avant-garde filmmaking movement that soon attracted the attention of filmmakers across the world. Above all else, Dogme 95 stressed the importance of story, acting and theme. What set it apart, however, were the technological limitations outlined in the “Vow of Chastity”, written by von Trier and Vinterberg. The vow has ten rules, and six of those ten have applications for photographers.
1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
3. The camera must be handheld. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. (The film must not take place where the camera is standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place).
4. The film must be in color. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too light light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
Change the terms slightly, and they become applicable to photography.
If you like to be in control in your photography, then consider letting go. Turn off Instagram and put your phone away. Put your swanky new DSLR back on the shelf. Forget filters, plugins, strobes and softboxes. Close Lightroom, and don’t you dare touch iPhoto.
Grab the nearest film camera, slide in a roll of your favorite Kodak or Fujifilm, and go to where the photograph is happening. If you have an all-manual film camera, all the better. Limit yourself technologically, and you’ll open yourself creatively.
Dust off that Pentax K1000, and see what you find.