Friday, March 2, 2012

It Doesn't Have To Be Perfect


One of the things I love about collaborating with the women on this blog is that we often share similar thoughts, feelings and ideas about how photography has changed our focus on life. Claudia's post on Wednesday encouraged us to embrace imperfection and I've been having similar thoughts....

This January, I started a 365 project. I started it for several reasons...to see if I could live up to the challenge of taking at least one photo every day of the year, to improve my photography skills over 365 days, and probably the most important reason, to capture my daily life.

So a couple of weeks ago as I was reading a newsletter by Ali Edwards about documenting daily life, I found myself making several mental notes. Ali offered 10 tips for living in the present moment even while you are documenting an experience. The tip that struck a particular chord with me was this..."Take one or two photos and then put the camera down. What if you stopped trying to capture the perfect image and really limited the number of photos you take. Even if that photo was imperfect it could still be used to help you tell a story."

As an over-achieving, perfection-seeking, won't-take-failure-as-an-option kind of girl, this cut to my heart, but was just the message I needed to hear. My 365 project is not 365 days of perfection. It is about capturing my life, my stories, my journey. It is about learning, growing, reflecting. And I believe that putting my camera down after one or two shots can be liberating!

What about those big events in life - birthdays, holidays, weddings? Will I still take hundreds of photos? Of course! But will I be a bit more judicious with those little moments in between? I think so. As I remind myself it doesn't have to be perfect, I can focus on seeking out those truly photo worthy one or two moments of an experience while being present and enjoying all those other moments!

So how about you? Are you up for a challenge? What if the next time you are capturing a "slice of life" moment, you only take one or two shots and then put your camera down? I know it might be scary, but you can do it! Think of me holding your hand along the way! And then share your experience in our flickr group or in our comments. We'd love to hear from you!


17 comments:

Dotti said...

Oh, my, yes: Put the camera down after a couple of shots. That's me - I'm convinced my next shot will be my best one ever!!! This is wonderful advice, Stephanie. As in all things, moderation is the key. Thanks! :D

terriporter said...

Perfection is such an impossible goal but one I confess to seek on a daily basis with my camera. As Dotti said, the "next shot will be my best one ever!" I think digital photography is responsible for this because we can take unlimited amounts of photos, and we usually do! But you are so right when you say that we need to be present and enjoy our lives, not just record them. I just came back from an amazing day with two photographers I greatly admire and we did shoot a lot of images, but the two I love the most are the two we took of each other, the ones that really remind me of what an amazing day it was. I'm so glad we just enjoyed our time together rather than sitting and posing all day for the camera. I have two shots and they're not perfect but they bring back a wonderful memory. I will try to keep this day in mind when I'm tempted to keep shooting, trying to capture the perfect shot. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration to do just that!

terriporter said...

Perfection is such an impossible goal but one I confess to seek on a daily basis with my camera. As Dotti said, the "next shot will be my best one ever!" I think digital photography is responsible for this because we can take unlimited amounts of photos, and we usually do! But you are so right when you say that we need to be present and enjoy our lives, not just record them. I just came back from an amazing day with two photographers I greatly admire and we did shoot a lot of images, but the two I love the most are the two we took of each other, the ones that really remind me of what an amazing day it was. I'm so glad we just enjoyed our time together rather than sitting and posing all day for the camera. I have two shots and they're not perfect but they bring back a wonderful memory. I will try to keep this day in mind when I'm tempted to keep shooting, trying to capture the perfect shot. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration to do just that!

Naomi said...

Stephanie, I think we may be the same person. I take about 60 pics of one little moment, which only causes me to later spend a long time viewing them and tweaking them and sorting them and the scrapbooking them. So silly, you are right.
You wrote "It doesn't have to be perfect" and I immediately said "it doesn't??????? are you quite sure?" because that's my mantra. I have a book that's titled "Never Good Enough" and that seems to be my mantra. I feel relieved just reading this post.
I've noticed some not quite perfect images actually printed in magazines lately... the kind that are blurry and not really of anything at all. In one, I can sort of make out that it's a child jumping off of a dock into some water. I would have deleted that immediately... I suppose I need to slow down and appreciate each picture for it's potential to speak about the moment it was captured.
Thank you for posting this today!

Karen Harvey Cox said...

Perfection, I love that photo, is that your little guy? You are living in a magical chapter, I adored it when my girls were little. I admire your commitment to join an annual project. I like your idea of taking one or two photos just to record the day. It's a bit like journaling which I love, but with pictures. You have inspired me this morning. Thank you.

Karen

Jamie Gebhardt said...

Good advice, Stephanie. Perhaps my family wouldn't grumble so much when they see me with my camera if they knew I was only going to take one or two photos!

Carol's View said...

Such a cute picture and cute little hands. I think your advice is true for every kind of photography. Even out doing landscape shots, it's so nice to just sit down on a log and breathe and enjoy the beauty around you IN PERSON. I love to relive it later on film, but - but I don't ever want to fail to enjoy the live experience first.

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

When I joined in a photography group a couple of years ago I learned to just shoot. Keep shooting. Like you I used to take hundreds of shots at "special times" in our life. BUT I have found through the years that its the day to day quiet moments that have really become that GREAT shot.

Glad we are on the same page! Great minds think alike huh? *wink*

Claudia

Focusing On Life said...

Thanks, Dotti!We can continue to encourage each other with shouts of moderation, moderation!!!

Focusing On Life said...

How exciting that you got to spend the day with two photographer friends....what a gift! And that you were able to capture it with some photos you will treasure!

Focusing On Life said...

I hear you! It is so hard to let go of the need for perfection! I'm sure I will struggle until the day I die! But even just moving one small step ahead is an accomplishment. I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

Linda said...

You know, I have noticed that I usually like the first or second shot I take best anyway. I try to limit the number of shots I take at once. It's hard sometimes, when you're trying to get the perfect shot. Today I was shooting selfies and took over 40. The ones I liked best are the least perfect. They're the ones where I'm not even doing what I planned to do!
Great post!

Joddo said...

I'm like you, Stephanie, I'm a perfectionist and I shoot too many photos also. I learned something this last week. I went on a girls trip (7 women) and for some reason decided to only shoot a few pictures in each national park, lunch spot, motel, etc. and I found I had more time to enjoy the beauty or the fun around me. It was freeing and I still have plenty of visual memories now that I am home! I think I will try to do this more often.

susan said...

love your take on this steph! my motto has always been to be 'perfectly imperfect'...meaning, well...pretty much everything you said. adore your photo!!!

janel said...

Love all the sentiments of your post...as well as loving the photo. So much to think about. I sometimes think that I cannot get "the shot" with my iPhone or my point and shoot, but honestly, those are the cameras that are usually with me, and the ones available to capture the unexpected. Thanks for your honest and heartfelt thoughts!

scrappysue said...

I have to do this for my sanity because once they make it to my hard drive, I have a very very hard time deleting anything (apart from the very obvious bad ones). Recently my family and I spent about an hour at the beach and I must have taken nearly 300 photos, I just couldn't believe it, the time alone just to look through them all is bad enough, but then having to delete, tag, photoshop etc etc, agghhh ...... And all I really remember from that outing is taking photos, I wasn't the one having fun in the sand or splashing in the sea. I really needed this reminder, thank you so much!

leigh said...

Honestly i had never given thought to just shooting a few photos and then putting the camera down. Sometimes I find myself so wrapped up in trying to get *the* shot that I forget to enjoy the moment. Good post Steph!

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