I Don’t Care About Perfection

I was talking with a professional photographer and was explaining why I have shied away from forums dedicated to professionals. As we were talking, I was explaining my frustration for the pursuit of perfection in photos.

Now don’t get me wrong. I truly believe that photographers (professional or enthusiastic hobbyists) should strive to learn their cameras, learn about lighting and composition, and a have a strong feel for proper editing. However, there is more to it.

I explained to here that I remember reading through forums and seeing amazing photos with priceless expressions. These were incredible moments captured. And yet, as I would read through the posts, I was astonished at the nit-picky nature of the comments. People were suggesting that the photo wasn’t useable because there were slight imperfections: a color cast here, a blown out portion there. The photographers were deflated, now wondering what to do with a photo they loved but was considered unusable by other people.

And that is when I stopped reading photography forums. As much as I believe in learning about taking better photos, I never want the striving for great photos to take over my striving for real photos. I want to capture real moments between real people. I would rather have technical imperfections than “perfect” photos that don’t capture the real essence of the subject. That’s why my Photo A Day project is full of less-than-perfect photos.

Here are two examples of how this is affecting me:

1. A month or two ago, my daughter walked by me and there was something in the way she looked that day that made me realize I needed to capture her, right then and there. She was right on the brink between being a girl and being a woman. There were so many evidences to both that I knew it was a moment in time that demanded my attention. She is becoming more reluctant to photos these days but I asked her if I could grab a few. She obliged, but I knew that I only had a few moments before she would be done. Because I was working quickly, they photos aren’t perfect. I didn’t have time to always nail focus and I didn’t have time to try different locations. But I don’t care because I captured her, all eleven-and-almost-a-half-years of her. This is my girl right now. If I had focused on perfection, I wouldn’t have these.

(you can see more of these photos on my personal blog)

2. My best lens, my 50mm 1.4, is broken. I need to have it fixed but we are traveling and there really isn’t an opportunity. That means that for our big 40 day road trip, I have to use a lower quality lens. There are things that I just can’t capture the way I would like. And yet, although it frustrates me, I am not letting it stop me from capturing this once in a lifetime trip.

And so, as much as I love a photo with great lighting and perfect composition, I have really come to the point where I don’t care about perfection. I care about real moments captured.

Here are a few other posts and thoughts on “perfect photos:

Taking “Perfect” Photos

Scrap the Outtakes