PERFECTIONISM & PHOTOGRAPHY
(and not always getting it right)
As my husband just walked through the room, I quickly asked him what he thought of the image above. He asked if there was any way I could crop it, to avoid the out-of-focus character taking over a majority of the frame. Little did he know that I was conducting a very brief experiment, guessing that might be his response but still wanting to hear a genuine thought on this particular photo.
I wouldn’t normally keep this image and give to a client, but I keep coming back to it. And every time I come back to it, I like it even more.
Of course I’m going through my head about whether or not this is a bad career move, to show this one photo because heaven forbid people might think I don’t know what I’m doing. That’s when the perfectionism kicks in.
“I should only share photos that are perfectly composed and exposed.”
“I have to get everything in focus, all the time, and (bonus!) make sure everyone is smiling and happy.”
But isn’t there a reward in being brave, in sometimes going against one’s intuition of the “shoulds” and “have tos”, especially in photography? When I can start to see past my mistakes and acknowledge that I’m going to keep making them (since I’m human and not a robot), I remind myself to keep telling a story, insist on documenting the heart of what matters, whether or not it’s perfectly composed or as it “should be” according to some photography manual or expert.
What I see in this photo is a little boy flailing and dancing in the middle of the living room (who melted my heart a little bit more every time he politely addressed me as “Mrs. Hubka”), but also the definition of the spirit of childhood: unabashed delight and chaos mixing together in two different scenes at the same time. The story in the foreground, the story in the background. And As I learn to think outside of perfection, I’m starting to see the beauty in the moments I would have deemed “imperfect” based on my technical abilities or ill-timing. Instead, what do the imperfect moments tell us, and how can we learn to accept the messy and the undone, the disorder and the delight in photography?