Many of us are aiming at perfection, and it is especially true for photographers. Who is not looking for the perfect location, the perfect weather conditions or the perfect composition?
I recently read an article by Ignacio Palacios on 500px about the image that won him his most prestigious award to date. His stunning photo features the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and Ignacio included his SUV in the composition. I would have cloned the car out, but the jury mentioned this “imperfection” as a key factor in their decision.
In commercial architecture photography, my clients are looking for perfection. My images need to be free of imperfections, and I spend a lot of time in Photoshop make sure they are perfect.
It makes it more difficult to be open-minded when I shoot urban and natural landscapes, because I tend to go to my “perfection mode” a little too often. While it helps me produce compelling images, it also put boundaries on my creative process.
You see, when aiming for perfection, you tend to develop a certain process and workflow. It is great for your productivity but it also restrains you from breaking the rules and creating more original content.
Commercial architecture images need to be have straight vertical lines for examples. But when I shoot cityscapes, it can be interesting to change the perspective and have converging lines.
Another example of this is the planning of a photography trip. I like to plan a lot of things in advance and I know a lot of places I want to shoot. But many things can happen during a trip. When things are not going the way you want, try to adapt instead of simply feeling down.
When we were in Capitol Reef National Park in 2013, the weather was terrible on the day before we were supposed to leave. I checked the weather in Bryce Canyon National Park, our next stop, and I saw it was snowing. We went to Bryce Canyon a day earlier and I got the beautiful image below.
I am not saying that perfection is bad, especially when you are on an assignment for a client. All I am saying is that getting out of your comfort zone is as important. The mistakes you make on the road to perfection are what make you grow as a photographer (and as a human being). It is not easy, but remember to try new things (or to do them differently).