Beauty in imperfection?


Photographers, professional and amateur alike, are always on a quest to capture the perfect image.  But what makes a perfect image?  Is it the sharpness of the pixels?  The fact that we can print it out bigger than a poster? Or is it the story that the image tells and the feeling it invokes.

I would say it is a mix of the two, where on one side, the technical importance  in getting an ultra sharp and perfectly light image are of top concern.  Headshots.  Portraits.  Fashion.  On the flip side, the technical perfection is thrown out when the image captures a moment.   A perfect photo is often one that is said to be the perfectly balance of the two.  I think of some of those amazing war photographs that come up every year, where the composition may not be perfect and the image not at it’s sharpest, but some almost make you shed a tear.

In looking over some street images I took while on a quick trip to Las Vegas a month ago I came upon the header image.  Some street posers (you know, those people who are dressed in various getups from Kiss band members to the minions in Despicable Me)  were paid to stand for a photo with some random tourists.  The streets were packed with people, specially at this intersection near the Planet Hollywood Casino.  I tried to capture the frenzy of the moment in trying to make my way around the people.

I look at this image and that’s what it makes me feel… something rushed, unplanned, quickly done…. imperfection.  And the more I look at the image, the more I like it, even though it isn’t perfect.  And the fact there is a partially covered boob probably helps 😉

I can easily tell that the focus point was on the buildings in the back.  I don’t think I even looked through the viewfinder when I shot this image.  Street photography is about moments and people.  I sometimes take the time to compose, sometimes waiting a while in the right light for the right passerby.  And sometimes, I only have time to bring up my camera before the moment is gone.

I’ll throw the below photo in the discussion (well, I guess it’s more of a monologue 🙂 )


Again, technically not a good image.  The problem here is a slower shutter speed.  But walking the underground pathways in Prague last year gives you an eerie feeling, a little destabilizing.  I get that a viewers eye likes to lock on to something in focus and here there isn’t.  Usually a faux pas.  But the fact that the eye keeps wondering is what makes it destabilizing.

Or how about this image taken while leaving the last pub at 3am in a pub tour in Ireland?  Perfect representation of my state of mind (and probably that of my friend and the others as well)


Would either of these pictures of been better if they were technically perfect?  Maybe.  Does that mean they shouldn’t be seen or don’t have merit on their own? I guess there is no real answer, as it’s all a matter of taste.

But even if your image isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean it should be trashed and never seen. 🙂

/end monologue 🙂