Monday, August 8, 2016

Is Life too Short for Perfect Street Photography

Life's Too Short for Perfect Writing
Echuca Australia July 2009

Having heard of an interesting piece of graffiti, I went to see and photograph it. It’s a statement that reads, simply, Life’s too short for perfect writing. Seems like such a simple on the surface, but it is a deceptive idea, and one that I at least should examine carefully. First thing I would like to do, however, is change it a bit to read:

Life is too short for perfect street photography

The first thing to say is that the statement does not say that life is too short for good street photography; in my opinion there is no place for any other kind. Here good for me refers to the intention of the photographer: not all of us are gifted with a camera (though some of us can dream!). So, it is the word perfect that gives us trouble here.

Of course a thing—whether street photography or anything else—might be perfect by its nature or by the way in which it is able to express its purpose. It is the pursuit of perfection (as opposed to the pursuit of excellence: the two are not the same) that life is too short for I think.

Perfectionism is a curse! At least it has been for me. Nothing has ever been good enough; I have never been satisfied with my efforts, no matter how successful those efforts have been. Of course being cursed with perfectionism doesn’t only apply to oneself: all people and all things in one’s life are affected, and the curse rolls on and on doing its damage and preventing authenticity, full truth and life to express itself.

The other part of this statement worth looking at is Life’s too short. Life is what life is; it can be neither too short or too long;? it can only be its perfect (you see? here is a use of perfect in a natural and correct context) length. And this is precisely why it is too short for perfect street photography.

Life is for living. There is no meaning to it outside of that which we create during our time of living, and then it is only for the duration of that life (as far as we can know of course). A part of that meaning, for me as for many many other photographers, is to make photos. And it is required of us to make our photographs as good (however we define that) as we can. If our photos communicate the intended ideas in a way that our viewer can relate to, then it is perfect. There is no need to think about it anymore.

Thank you

By the way, the statement appeared at the bottom of a cafe menu scrawled onto an old iron sheeting fence behind the cafe, near the river near where we live. It, I think, refers to the untidyness of the handwriting on the sign. A sort of apology I guess. Interesting.

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