Imperfectly Perfect

glass press

This is the kind of thing that would have once left me frustrated beyond words. The building pictured above features fantastic art against nice brick that begs to be photographed.

But look at it. There is no good angle to shoot from because of a ridiculous amount of utility lines coming and going from every direction and at every height.

There are fewer to be seen from the other side but it’s still enough to be distracting.

This once would have made me nuts. I used to strive for clean pictures, free of people, cars and distractions at all costs.

But I’ve reached a mental place where it has suddenly become important to me that pictures not be perfect and instead record the real scene. Documentary photography is more my thing these days even though most of those pictures don’t make the cut here.

My favorite historical pictures aren’t the ones that only show the building. Instead, the ones that give clues are the best. Street signs, power lines, cars, and people all help to root a picture in an era or even a year. I study the names of businesses in old photos like I’m going to go shop there in a bit. Utilitarian pieces like traffic lights and electric lines can help with dating and I’m fascinated by how people used to dress.

What’s the point of a perfect picture of a lovely church if you don’t know where it’s located or when the photo was made?

Not to mention, there are times and places where you literally can’t capture an image without people walking through the frame or cars parked out front. Sometimes it’s better to bend into the problem and appreciate it for what it’s worth rather than fuss because the problem exists.

That’s not to say that I like having all these lines in the picture but I have come to accept that all things cannot be perfect and that sometimes imperfections lend something useful like character or context.

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