Perfection kills progress

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As I sit here editing a photoshoot I did this past Monday, I feel frustrated. I find myself feeling this loss of “the groove”. Having a baby and changing career paths during a pandemic while suffering from anxiety that I just can’t seem to break free of has really taken its toll. I look at image after image that I’m not happy with, not because of the dancer, but because of the focus issues I had, the feeling of awkwardness and not having that aha moment with poses I was giving or feeling. I feel like I’m looking at a ton of unusable images, and it gets me feeling disenchanted with my own work. Maybe disenchanted isn’t the right word to use. Maybe it’s self-conscious. Maybe it’s discouraged. There it is. I’m discouraged.

But I keep having this realization as if I’m pulling my head out of a cloud of frustration into a moment of lucid positivity. Only one or two images need to be “the picture” everything else is just experimentation. Everything else is just frosting. The frosting is great, but it’s the cake that is the necessary foundation of the dessert. Unless you just really like frosting. That’s okay too. Okay so maybe I’m hungry and just took this entire post on a dessert tangent. So let’s refocus because my metaphor was going very spectacularly before I went off on cake.

In the wedding world, you take a lot of pictures. And you deliver a lot of pictures. It’s necessary, in a way, to tell the story of the day. You aren’t typically taking a ton of pictures of the exact same thing over and over, so it’s necessary for most of the images to be useable. You have to deliver them to your client in order to give them the memories of one of the most important days of their lives. When you shoot portraits, you may take 100 pictures of the exact same thing, the exact pose or facial expression. You do this to change the angle slightly, make a lighting shift, see if your subject relaxes or tenses. You probably will only use the one image. So the shift in perspective from weddings to portraits or fashion is important.

Is technical success necessary on several images that you want to use for your portfolio or for the job? Yes. Is technical success or even artistic success on every single image necessary? No. It’s absolutely not. It’s part of learning and growing. Perfection can often kill progress. Because perfectionism encourages us to have the fear surrounding getting lighting and focus and posing wrong and discourages playing, experimenting, and generally messing about. And without those things, we can’t understand where our artistry or technical skills could truly end up.

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