Cindy in Yukata. Uji, Kyoto 2017

In Praise of Imperfect Pictures

Why is it that we are so obsessed with image quality, sharpness, bokeh, and focus?

Perfection is boring.

Cindy diagonal composition with arms. Ricoh GR II with 28mm and flash, and ERIC KIM COLOR PRESET.
Cindy diagonal composition with arms. Ricoh GR II with 28mm and flash, and ERIC KIM COLOR PRESET.

My theory: we have turned photography into some ‘quantified’ form of nerd-art, where we try to make really good art and pictures by having even more ‘technically’ ‘perfect’ images. We want to have sharper images, with more ‘dynamic range’, more pixels, and more resolution.

But– true art, true pictures that uplift our spirits has nothing to do with perfection in art. If anything, we feel more emotion with imperfect images, that are blurry, out-of-focus, and more gritty and raw– than ‘picture-perfect’, ‘photoshopped’ versions of reality.

Cindy on escalator. Kyoto, 2017
Cindy on escalator. Kyoto, 2017

I was first inspired with this concept of ‘imperfect’, raw, gritty, out-of-focus images from Daido Moriyama (who learned this from William Klein). The idea is that as photographers we shouldn’t be trying to capture pixel-perfect renditions of reality. Rather, real life is raw, gritty, imperfect, confusing, and often blurry and out-of-focus. Our pictures should reflect this reality.

Cindy blur. Saigon, 2017
Cindy blur. Saigon, 2017

Art cannot be ‘explained’

Reflection of Cindy in Ukata in our Ryokan in Uji, Kyoto 2017
Reflection of Cindy in Ukata in our Ryokan in Uji, Kyoto 2017

In today’s world, we want everything drawn out for us. We want everything explained for us. We hate analyzing and understanding things on our own– we want things spoon-fed for us.

Why? Thinking is hard. Analyzing is hard. Uncertainty is scary.

We want to put everything into picture-perfect boxes, to ELIMINATE uncertainty in life. Because uncertainty in life is dangerous. And danger might lead to death.

Cindy mask. Nyc, 2015
Cindy mask. Nyc, 2015

“I make pictures because I can’t draw.”

A lot of us talk down on ourselves as photographers– saying that we picked up photography because we can’t draw. False– ANYONE can draw. Not all of us can draw photo-realistic pictures or drawings or paintings. However, the master painters like Picasso or Matisse, didn’t draw or paint ‘realistic’ images– they drew what was on their mind, and how they saw and interpreted their own personal reality.

Eric Kim Cindy Red Kyoto Curtain
Cindy and red curtain. Kyoto, 2017

If anything, as photographers, we have a MORE DIFFICULT job than painters. Why? Painters can technically fuck with reality, and break all the rules of ‘reality’, perspective, and space. As photographers, we slaves to perspective and reality. So our job as photographers and artists is to make pictures that SCREW with people’s sense of perspective and reality. We need to somehow create our own reality through pictures. We need to somehow reveal our own emotions, soul, and feelings through pictures.

And if you have a mind that is confused, and often in conflict– how can you make pictures that reflect that?

Every photographer photographs themself.

Cindy at the beach. Fort Bragg, 2016
Cindy at the beach. Fort Bragg, 2016

Do you see yourself in your pictures?

Selfie with Cindy. Kyoto, 2017
Selfie with Cindy. Kyoto, 2017

So friend, I encourage you to NOT make picture-perfect images. Rather, make your photos more raw and gritty. Use free ERIC KIM MONOCHROME presets to add grit, grain, and more emotion to your images. One of the best ways to MASTER MONOCHROME is to know, you are trying to convey EMOTION and FEELING in your pictures, not a photo-realistic representation of reality.

Also, intentionally try to blur your photos. Shoot with a lower ISO– use ISO 800 at night. Don’t try to always focus what is closest to you– focus on what is furthest away from you (a good way to create more depth and layers in your pictures).

Cindy at work at cafe, with red light. Kyoto, 2017
Cindy at work at cafe, with red light. Kyoto, 2017

Above all, don’t seek ‘perfection’ in your pictures. Rather, seek EMOTION, MOOD, AND SOUL in your pictures.

Make pictures that reveal a bit of who you are, how you see the world, and what is personal to you. Personal pictures are the best.

Share your favorite pictures in ERIC KIM FORUM and join ERIC KIM EXPERIENCE.

HAVE FUN, BE STRONG, AND BE CREATIVE EVERY DAY!
ERIC


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