I was Iistening to another LensWork podcast entitled "The Devil and the Details". In it, Brooks Jensen proposes that the tiniest flaw can take away from the overall impression of an otherwise perfect art project (photo collection, book, etc.).
At first I found myself in complete agreement. I've found myself applying that same idea to my own work. Unfortunately, maybe too much so to the point of being a detriment. As I've learned more and more about post-processing in Photoshop, Capture NX, and Lightroom over the years, I find myself wanting to tweak all sorts of things, just because I could.
The problem is that many times, after spending an hour or two on an image, it still didn't feel finished. I'd simply file it away as something I would get back to later. Fast forward 5-10 years and I've probably got more of those 'unfinished' images than I even realize.
After going out for an early-morning shoot this past Sunday, I was feeling good about what I captured and got right down to business processing the images. In about 45 minutes I managed to get 4 or 5 images I was pretty happy with. Were they absolutely perfect? No, of course not. But maybe that's not the point. A little RAW processing, some quick curves adjustments and masks, a bit of selective sharpening, and that was that. I'd have to say it was actually freeing not to be tied to the software in an effort to reach perfection. I also realized that I didn't mind posting them for others to see in their not-completely-perfect state either.
So, what to get out of all of this? I'm not sure. Maybe perfectionism has it's place, but it's not a place
where we need to live all the time with our art. Depending on the audience and the format, maybe a few flaws are ok if they're not glaring. Or maybe this is the difference between a hobbyist and a professional. Either way, I'm not going to stress about it. Speaking for myself, this time, it felt great to be productive instead of perfect.
You can listen to the entire LensWork podcast here or here.