facing imperfection

They say the camera is not important, that it's the photographer who makes the picture. Which is all very nice, but the bare fact is that a good lens really does provide a level of clarity and control which a cheap camera can not.

Sometimes I feel sad when I upload the pictures from my camera ... certain that I have some good images ... only to find that mechanical inadequacies failed me. Of course, I can still make a dreamy kind of imagery, and probably I would do so regardless of my camera, but some types of images will always be beyond me because of my camera's limitations.

Then again, I could say that about so many things in my life. I'll never be able to swim the channel, crochet lace, read a sign at fifty paces, run a marathon. And if I got an expensive professional camera, would I just meet some other limitation within the camera or myself that prevented me from creating perfection?

But then there are the people like Richard Dawkins who believe certain kinds of imperfection are intolerable, immoral. Abort the Downs Syndrome babies, he says. Many doctors would agree with him. The child won't be able to achieve at the same level as other children.

As if achievement is all that matters.

Can't we simply rejoice in someone being alive? Or must they validate their existence by reaching certain goals, performing certain tasks, fitting certain measurements which one fraction of the world's society deems important?

Why do we even have a concept of perfection anyway? It suggests an objective standard which is impossible to meet, because there will always be people who prefer things different from any stated ideal.

My photographs will never be particularly good. One day I might get that expensive professional camera about which I dream ... but even then, I'll never be competent at f-stops and white balance. My brain doesn't work that way. But I must remind myself that what really matters is the hope I have while taking pictures ... the work I put into processing them ... the happiness I feel when they come out as nice as I can get them ...

The joy I feel looking at the world, even through an inadequate lens.


  1. Yes, it is about the joy and happiness, not about perfection. Well, actually, if our goal is happiness, then being happy with something means we have achieved perfection by our own standards. So many things I once enjoyed were ruined by the realization that I wasn't good enough at it, or that I'd never be able to make a living doing it, or that other people didn't admire my work. As I got older, I stopped caring so much about all this and started doing things for the joy it brought me, happily knitting projects that I will likely never finish. By the way, I think your photos are beautiful.

  2. Such a beautiful and touching post. Yes, I look through an inadequate lens, too, and am happy to accept imperfection as well. The world will never be free of imperfection, or suffering, and in chasing "perfection" in the way Dawkins suggests, one surely brings forth a different and terrible suffering.