Letting Go of Perfection

There’s a concept we kick around the office (our converted dining room) – called Perfect Imperfection. While it may or may not be the best marketing tagline to call your photos imperfect – to some degree, that’s what we aim for – Perfect Imperfection – especially when we’re photographing weddings.

Once you know how to work your camera (or set it on auto) – it’s not very difficult at all to make a technically proficient and/or ‘correct’ photo. Clear, tack sharp focus, properly exposed with the rule of thirds fully intact. While I try my hardest to not say that we capture ’emotion’ – I’m fully on board with saying that we want perfectly imperfect photos.

Blurry, full of grain, missing heads, missing limbs, over exposed, hot spots on faces, completely ignoring the rule of thirds – yeah – we keep all of those shots. At some point your photos need to become less about the actual photo and more about how it makes you feel, or how it conveys whatever it is you’re trying to show, or say – whether or you know what you’re saying or not.

Of course sometimes – you just like a photo for reasons unknown to even yourself.

How do you make a perfectly imperfect photo? Make the best photo you can make using the available conditions. It’s almost that simple.

What many people (Interns) seem to do is fight with what they’re given. Some things you can’t help – shooting in the middle of day in an open field. You can either try to expose for everything, or you accept that maybe the sky is going to be overexposed but your clients will be perfectly in love – and that’s what you want to capture. Instead of fighting the sun – figure out how you want it to be portrayed in your photos.

The same goes for darkness. If you can’t light everything – don’t try. Incorporate the darkness into your photo – use it in your composition – and don’t fight it – all of a sudden it’s a separate character in your photo, or it’ll force us to look at what is lit and what you’re trying to show us. It’s okay if we can’t see everything. It’s not okay if we can’t see what you’re trying to show us.

Many photographers love the unknown x-factor qualities that come into play when shooting with actual film – happy accidents or serendipitous qualities that create photos beyond our control. That sounds a lot like letting go of trying to make perfect photos.

There is much more to this than proper exposure, the rule of thirds, and sharp focus.

See you tomorrow.


Posted by Mark


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