The perfect photograph – is there such a thing?
I saw a question on Quora that asked how to take the perfect photograph. I guess in the land of camera equipment there are a lot of hype around things such as “the perfect camera” or “the perfect lens” although they usually have a qualifier such as “the perfect camera for sports” or “the perfect lens for landscapes”. But in art there is no perfect. No criteria around perfection.
For some people the idea of a perfect landscape images is front to back sharpness taken with a view camera at f/64. For others its a close up of a flower with a rich creamy boken background. Ultimately the image is the creation of the artist behind the camera and their concept of perfection.
As Salvador Dali put it – “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it”
Famous football coach Vince Lombardi told his players “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”. As imperfect photographers, we must stop to enjoy those moments when we do indeed come close to perfection as we strive for excellence. Excellence in the challenge of creating our vision.
“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
― Ansel Adams
The “perfect” photograph occurs when the idea you pre-visualized before pushing the trigger comes to be with the composition, sharpness level, depth of field, exposure and post processing level that satisfies you, the artist behind the tool.
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
― Ansel Adams
Here is one of mine I consider perfect in execution to my ideal – Vacation Rental by Edward Fielding (https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/featured/vacation-rental-edward-fielding.html) “Vacation Rental” was the result of several trips to a remote location on Prince Edward Island and the result of careful lens selection and camera position to isolate the old falling down cottage as well as capturing the scene on a day with great clouds and highlighted in post processing.
I consider it “perfect” when I wish to purchase a large print and hang it in my living room.
This image of my grandfather’s old broken pocket watch is another image of mine I consider close to perfection in composition, lighting and post processing. It archives the artistic goals I set out to capture – a moody portrait of a family heirloom, created with the book cover market in mind. Excellence is easier to obtain in a controlled environment such as a studio product shot or still life but the same principals of composition and good lighting can be taken out in the field when doing landscape photography.
Better photography comes from always striving for perfection even if it falls short and you are just left with a bit of excellence.