Tuesday, August 18, 2015

On Perfections And Limitations In Photography

Sunset At Morro Rock - Morro Bay, California
This is one of my most well-known images, but it is has imperfections that you might notice if you look close enough.
I was recently frustrated by some imperfections within some of my images. Those imperfections were, to a large extent, out of my control. I found them to be quite annoying.

I showed my wife the imperfections. She had a hard time noticing many of them at first. Some of the imperfections were extraordinarily subtle. But to my eyes they were obvious and stuck out like a bunch of sore thumbs.

Using software, I spent significant time trying to fix, as best as I could, the imperfections that I could. Photo editing software can be powerful, but it also has limits. Some of those limits pertain to my ability to use such software. I improved many of the imperfections, making them just a little less obvious. I showed my wife the before and after. At first she couldn't spot the change at all.

I had to remind myself that I cannot expect to create perfect photographs. I hope that no one expects my photographs to be perfect because no such thing exists. Perfection in photography is a myth. The world is imperfect. People are imperfect. Gear is imperfect. As much as one strives for perfection within their photography, it is a futile pursuit that will always end in disappointment.

We live in a finite world with finite constraints. Limitations are everywhere. It's a part of life, and it is especially a part of photographic life. You cannot escape it.

But limitations can be blessings. Limitations force you to be more creative. Limitations force you to innovate. Orson Welles said, "The absence of limitations is the enemy of art."

It's important to accept that perfection is unattainable and impossible in photography. But it's also important to embrace that and use it as a catalyst to better photographs. Limitations improve art. They make you think outside-the-box with whatever problems occur. They make you realize that a problem exists that you hadn't even considered before, and now, moving forward, you've got to figure out how to deal with it. They allow you to realize that perfection isn't possible, so don't worry so much about achieving it.

My photograph's are not perfect, and they never will be. But that's alright, because no one's photographs are perfect. I just need to make sure that I'm doing the best that I can with what I have. That's all anyone can do. And, hopefully, that's good enough.

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