Your Images Don’t Need to be Perfect.

In This Post

  • Do I complain too much? Some readers thought so.
  • Do images have to be perfect?

Read Time – 5 Minutes
Click on Images to see larger versions

Do I Complain Too Much?
In last week’s newsletter, I received a few replies expressing that I should ‘Stop Moaning’. These were valid replies, but the problem is that I love a good moan. I’m British and I’m a cynical person, and as a reader called Larry put it – “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way…”  

On occasion though, I do catch myself moaning too much. My wife calls me a fun sponge, and this is something I have been addressing for a long time. Each week, I try to take on more of a positive attitude and practice gratitude regularly. 

As I’m writing this, storm Ciaran is raging outside. It’s cold, wet & very windy. This morning, I needed to walk to the cash machine to pay a tradesman. The cash machine is 10 minutes away, the next cash machine is 25 minutes away.  

Whilst struggling to walk upright in a 60mph wind and with rain battering my face, which was tought and turned sideways as if I had just sucked a lemon, I thought to myself – “I hope this cash machine is working”. 

Predictably, the cash machine was not working. I felt the rage begin to build inside of me, but before I let it take over, I reminded myself that I was actually enjoying this morning’s walk. I had full waterproofs on, I was warm and dry, and a 50-minute morning walk is much better than a 20-minute walk. Suddenly, I was happy and content. 

I was gleaming at my victory. Wouldn’t life be amazing if I could see the positive in everything. Yes, but it’s probably not overly healthy. A balance of positivity and scepticism is the way to go. 

What has all of this got to do with photography? Everything. 

The best way to enjoy your photography is to lower your expectations. If you wake up in the morning expecting to see low lying mist and a burning sunrise, and all you get are flat grey skies and gusty wind, you will be unhappy and disappointed.  

If this happens too often (which it will because we can’t control the weather) you will fall out of love with photography. 

You can’t control the weather, but you can control your expectations.  

If you pack your bag with the goal of going for a nice walk and experimenting with a few different compositions, your expectations will always be met and more often than not, they will be exceeded. You will be a much happier photographer. 

A great example of this is my video from Wednesday. The conditions were unbelievably terrible, but I adopted a positive attitude, removed any expectations and came away with a set of images that I was happy with (2 of 3 images below).

Does It Matter If Your Images Aren’t Perfect?
There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection and mastering our field craft, but here is a question I would like to pose: Is there room in our portfolios for imperfect images? 

Would you discard an image if it was a little soft, or had visible water drops on the lens?  

What if despite these flaws, you still loved the image?  

What if these flaws made the image? 

What’s more important; the technical perfection of an image or the feel of an image? Ideally, both, but this isn’t always possible. 

Henri Cartier’s Man Jumping Puddle is an example that comes to mind. 

Technically, this image is not perfect. The man is soft and out of focus. 

A guest judge in a local camera club competition might say “What a shame the man isn’t sharp”. 

But, I see a decisive moment captured beautifully. The motion blur of the man tells a story and gives the image so much ‘feeling’.

In last Wednesday’s video, my ‘Trees in Rain’ image was a technical disaster. I missed focus and my lens was saturated, but I didn’t care.

Although I missed focus on the trees, I nailed focus on the rain (Total accident) and the result is an image full of feeling. 

I want to go and get my umbrella just from looking at it. 

If my goal was to capture the elements, I certainly succeeded here.

I have a second version below, which nailed focus on the trees, and you can see it’s not as atmospheric and lacks the feeling of the “Rainy” image even though it is technically more of a success. 

I thought the subject was the trees, when in fact, it was the rain.

Thank you for reading this week’s post. I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps got some value from it.

To help support the channel and to offer some inspiration for your next photography adventure, I have 2 Landscape Photography books available below.