Photo tip: Almost Perfect

Great photography isn’t always about technical perfection. In fact, some of my favorite images are slightly off. Too dark, too light or even slightly out of focus can be trumped by things like mood, feel, emotion and moment.

I’ve always been a fan of the edges of things. Even when I covered a Super Bowl, political convention or religious procession, I always found my “power spot” was on the fringe of the event itself. Wandering the edges where the event tapered off into the reality of daily life. The blend was what I found interesting, and where I could deep dive into looking for one-of-a-kind gems.

I find the same for the technical side of photography. With today’s cameras it’s effortless to make in focus pictures with perfect exposures, but there is far more to photographic life than that. I like to the push the boundaries of exposure, light and shutter speed. So what if things are a little soft or a little dark? As long as the feel of the image works, or the image sparks emotion in the viewer, I’ll take that every time.

Great photography isn’t always about technical perfection. In fact, some of my favorite images are slightly off.

The fun begins when you start testing this idea. If you are absolutely sure you can handhold a 1/30th of a second shutter speed then try 1/8th or even 1/4th of a second. If you are working a scene and you think the light is gone turn yourself around and go back. See what the darkness brings. Same for bright midday sun. Challenge yourself to make something outside your normal comfort zone.

Great photography is about soul. Some photographs have soul and others don’t. What is soul in a photograph? That’s up to you to decide, but people normally recognize it the moment they see it, and it rarely has anything to do with perfection.


  • Debbi Chan says:
    Feb 8 at 10:19

    I tend to agree although with photography I do not push limits . It seems as i get many exciting things by opening my eyes and mind and having patience. But when I do the paintings which I later publish with Blurb I stretch limits especially the norm for people accustomed to Western painting. my art can intrigue viewers with the very difference you speak of in your photography. I use a perspective rarely seen outside of Eastern art and the composition is different. Space becomes all important. And despite not knowing how or what I did to create the feeling it draws people in. it is important for art, and that includes photography , to have QI or life breath. You call it soul but I believe we are on the same page here.

  • Debbi Saccomanno Chan says:
    Feb 8 at 10:30

    You speak of doing something outside your own norm. I find it interesting to go ahead with the not norm and allow others to experience this not norm . It opens the mind to thought and feeling. With some of the subjects I choose to paint I push even my own limits. Here again I see possibilities. If people are not familiar with something I paint I allow them to see it in different lights or views and then it is up to them to go on with it. It might have previously angered them or me, until they see different ways of looking. It is about looking. About seeing. About using the eyes the heart and the mind. Art opens these for better or worse.

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