When Brian told me he's a picky perfeccionist, I knew exactly what he was talking about, because I can be a picky perfeccionist too. Give me one minor detail to complain about, and the whole picture is ruined.
We are different photographers, he and I. He shoots Nikon, I shoot Canon. I like to shoot wide-open, he shoots at f/8 and beyond. He sees a lens flare in a photo, I see a backlight. He dislikes photos that are off-axis, and I look for ways to make photos off-axis and appealing. But we learn from each other nonetheless. (Well, it's more like he learns from me.)
Anyway, I shot a portrait session of Brian months ago, but never shared it with him until last week. Why? Because it felt imperfect. The lighting was terrible, and I felt like I didn't capture the soul of who he is.
Then I finally sat down and sorted through the photos again. Out of the 120 photos I took, only 5 made it through to the end. I then edited these 5 beloved photos, and cared for them, and fed them, and sang lullabies and rocked them until they fell asleep. And at the end of 3 full hours, (okay, more like 30-minutes), I just knew that he would love these photos, and gleefully smile, and then hail me as the best portrait photographer he ever met, and then quickly show them off to all the ladies on his Facebook.
With a smirk, I alas emailed him the results, awaiting the exclamatory words of praise I deserved...
Point-by-point, he picked out all its imperfections. Too much of this. Too little of that. That is not my taste. You should've did it like this, not like that. You re the worst photographer in the world. Keep your day job. Why were you even born? Blah blah blah. (Okay, maybe I m exaggerating).
So the day after, I emailed back, "If that's the case then, I don't want to share them. I wouldn't want to share portraits that you think don't represent you." I meant it. Really.
Yet! He insisted, "go ahead and blog!"
And to be honest, that nudged me off-axis a bit. I wouldn't want another photographer to share portraits of me, that I personally don't even like. If the portraits of myself don t look like myself, then why share them?
I asked him again days later, and he was still willing to let me share these photos on the blog!
But let me tell you something. I knew in my gut, that I still wanted to blog about it. I believe in these photos. I believe they actually tell a great story of Brian.
The guy loves to laugh, when I think of him, he's always laughing about something; he also did some extreme ice skating la Mr. Anton Ohno. And he's always covering his head with something! Like a beanie, or a hood. Or both, at the same time. That's the Brian I know, and these portraits are a result of that.
I hope you like them more than Brian does.1
The moral of this story: I need to let go of imperfection, and stop being so hard on myself.
So much so that it paralyzes me, and keeps me from progressing. So instead, I actually regress. But here's the irony: The moment we share our imperfection, then progression can begin. Then we're ready to create the artwork we were looking for all along.
Kudos to you Brian, for letting me share this work of imperfection to the world anyway, and by doing that, teaching me that it's okay to be imperfect. And I'm really grateful for that.
Really, though, thanks for letting me share this.
You may learn more about Brian s photography at http://www.btranphotography.com, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/btphotog.2
1 Please consider the high level of jocularity administered in this blog post, before assuming any bitterness between the author and the subject.
2 Although the author may have been emotionally harmed1, no "Brians" were harmed in the making of this blog post.