Family photo albums are an entertaining thing. Before the advent of digital photography, people would save every one of their awkward photos without editing in the slightest. The result is a hodgepodge of decent and unrecognizable pictures.
I don’t know this for certain, but my family’s old photos are more peculiar than usual. My dad has an aversion to what he calls “posed pictures,” which means out photo albums are filled with ridiculous looking people who are right in the middle of whatever they are doing. Most of our pictures don’t make sense and are often of unidentifiable people.
In a lot of our photo shoots, no one knows that their picture is being taken which has much more interesting results than if everyone stopped to smile at the camera. These are pictures of life as it is happening. They prompt more memories than a planned portrait does, and if no one remembers the context, they prompt us to use our imaginations to fill in with a new story.
Now that we do not have to conserve film, we can take thousands of pictures all at once and then pick out the very best looking one. And if there is no perfect picture to be found in all those options, one can easily be edited. Because of this, photos have gotten progressively less weird (at least in the way I’m talking about). Now perfection is the expectation instead of being a pleasant surprise when the film is developed.
Aiming for perfection is one of the surest ways to suck the fun out of something. I tend to be a perfectionist, and the ability to edit enables this horrible tendency. If it is in theory possible to be perfect, I will not be satisfied with anything less which means I probably won’t even try something if I suspect that I will fall short.
I am trying to kill that perfectionist side of myself. The first step is to remind myself that imperfection can be the most fascinating.
To reach my goal of embracing imperfection, I asked for a Polaroid camera for my birthday. Even if I take a objectively horrible picture, it looks “artistic” as a Polaroid.
I have also begun writing rough drafts on paper so that I can’t backspace or copy and paste, at least not without a lot of mess and trouble. In fact, this whole blog post was originally written in ink in a real life notebook.
If perfection is the goal, trying is usually failing. I would much rather have lots of awkward attempts at writing or art for people to puzzle over in the future than not have anything at all.
And in another attempt at forgoing perfectionism, I am not going to go back and edit this post. Good luck reading this.