Photography & Perfectionism
October 31, 2010 § 4 Comments
As I mentioned, I pulled out my camera last week to try to take some pictures for the blog… And it wasn’t a great experience. I felt a old demon kicking in and the harder I tried, the worse the photos got and I felt so frustrated. And then it seemed silly to be so frustrated!
I started off this year taking a photo a day, and made it farther than I thought that I would – in fact, there’s at least a month’s worth of photos that were never uploaded. For some reason I had this process down when I was taking photos for this project. Less emphasis on posting an image I loved, more emphasis on recording LIFE (with the hope that by practicing daily I would improve over time). I didn’t stress about it (too much) if I hated a particular picture, or thought it could be better.
The time off from taking pictures every day has somehow increased the pressure in my mind, maybe in part because of the guilt of not using my camera. Now I feel stuck. I’m out of practice and trying to find the right buttons, the light is fading quickly in the evenings, and there’s the underlying dissatisfaction with my surroundings*. I need to get back to the spontaneity, the documentation. Maybe especially because I’m out of practice, I seem to want something lovely to show for it. It should matter more that the object of the photo is lovely to me and worth remembering. Just as my words and handwriting don’t need to be “worthy” of a beautiful journal, my photos don’t need to be “worthy” of their subjects. Apparently I feel inadequate because I don’t have a nice photo to show. That’s just ridiculous.
When I set out to take a nice picture, to try to capture an emotion or texture or moment in a beautiful and emotive way – I will inevitably be disappointed. I envy both uncomposed, often unfocussed “snapshots” that are beautiful in their honesty & simplicity AND the artistically structured ones that are gorgeous images and stand on their own.
It’s the intent that’s really the issue here. Is it to make a beautiful picture to share? Or is it to document what I’ve made/a moment/an event for myself first? I want to approach photography as a practice, like my writing and my yoga and my knitting. I started to really enjoy taking photos because it gave me a little window of noticing the beauty all around me. I want to recapture that. Process over product. Intent over accomplishment. Seeing over portraying. Maybe I need to go back to firing off iPhone shots. Less pressure, maybe? This one T took the other day is perfect. No staging, no stress, no fancy camera. Real. Thank you Sweetheart.
I think my favorite part of this picture is my tiny reflection there, in my mother’s ring.
*(ooooh, didn’t know that one was in there until just now! That’s a whole other topic!)