“The Finch” – Tracey Capone Photography © 2012
His eye isn’t as clear and crisp as I would like it to be. There are little aberrations in the bokeh that, admittedly, are quite maddening to me. I should have used a different lens. I should have set the white balance differently. I should have set the exposure differently.
The first time I reviewed my photographs from Scotland, I discarded this one and chalked it up to a loss. I really wanted to capture this little guy perfectly. His beautiful coloring, the sweet look on his face as he sang to his partner in a nearby tree, the feeling I had when I saw him. I wanted to be able to take a photograph that perfectly captured the gratitude I felt as I looked out over Loch Lomond, knowing how lucky I was to be able to spend those days driving around Scotland.
Later, back at the hotel, when I pulled up this photograph, I was crestfallen. I immediately jumped to picking apart my skills as a photographer, cursing the fact that, because I didn’t figure out early on that I wanted to be a photographer, I had my “stupid” business degree instead of a fine arts degree. (there is a very dominant gene on my mom’s side of the family… let’s just say, “Warning- this gene may cause dramatics.) Where I had always been proud of the fact that I am a self-taught photographer, I was feeling inadequate and unprofessional… over a photograph of a bird; and it’s not the first time I have ended a day of shooting feeling that way.
I have mentioned in recent posts that I have a tendency of stepping away from certain sets of photographs for a time and going back to them later. Sometimes I do it purposely to clear my head and get a fresh perspective, sometimes it’s just because life gets busy and I don’t have a choice. Regardless, it gives me the chance to get out of my own head, and, hopefully, view things in a different light. The other day, I yanked this one out of the discard pile and, you know what? I love this photograph. No, it isn’t perfect. There are any number of things that I would have done differently but it still brings me back to the memory of that afternoon and isn’t that the point? Who cares if it isn’t perfect?
I can go on a five hour shoot, take 400 photographs and only end up with five I really like. It doesn’t mean that the rest are garbage, quite the contrary, as they have importance all of their own. They are there to teach me what not to do. They are my mistakes, my lessons, my chance to figure out what I could have and should have done differently. Hell, there have been times when mistakes have turned out an awesome photograph and I just go on making them.
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” -Scott Adams
It has taken me 39 years and a photograph of a bird, but I have finally accepted that it is okay not to be perfect. I mean really, I have survived being flawed this long, whose to say it’s not working for me? In the end, there is no point to driving yourself to mental exhaustion replaying mistake after mistake, regretting your missteps, whether it’s in art or life. Whether it’s honing a skill or taking a step in life, I truly think that everything happens for a reason, good or bad. Take a shot, review the photograph, figure out what did or didn’t work and move on. I know, I for one am going to celebrate the fact that I was created flawed as I was made perfectly imperfect for a reason. Who am I to argue with that master plan?
“Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important, capture the good times. Develop the negatives and if something doesn’t work out for you, take another shot” – Unknown