Imperfect Photos are More Beautiful

Pure beauty is perhaps in the chaotic, random, and uneven:

Why I love gritty monochrome images

A thought on photography and aesthetics:

Why is it that monochrome, grit, and random light effects (light leak, false colors, etc) look so beautiful?

My theory:

“Imperfect” photos look more beautiful because they don’t look like our memories.

We don’t see the world in black and white. We don’t see the world grainy. But perhaps having some chaos/noise is good, because by obscuring the image, it forces us to use more of our brain, and it is necessary for us to project more of our image-interpretation faculties in an image.

Personal photography

When shooting personal photos of your everyday life (loved ones, life events, etc), to have “imperfect” photos are better. Why? They feel more like real life! Chaotic, unpredictable, and random.

Abstract photography

Abstract photos are beautiful because we can project our own imagination into the images. There isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to interpret an abstract image. Perhaps that is what makes certain photos last:

By having a certain image which is not easily decipherable makes it more open to different interpretations. By having more people debate on how to interpret a certain image (or the intent of the author), it remains longer in the public discourse.


Obscured photos

A photograph which is more obscured is more interesting to look at. Why? By obscuring the face of your subject, you must use your imagination to think:

“I wonder what that person looks like, and who that person is?”

It think this is what makes my ‘Dark Skies over Tokyo‘ series so compelling — it is difficult to decipher the expressions, emotions, or feelings of the subjects in the photos:

Imperfect compositions

Personally I’ve also discovered that having off-kilter, off-center, tilted (dutch angle), strange framing, and accidental compositions as more interesting.

Why? When photos are too perfectly composed, they feel too sterile and devoid of life.

Why this obsession with perfect compositions in photography?

My theory:

Plato devised his ‘theory of forms’ that everything in reality was comprehensible, able to be codified, and of certain “pure forms” (similar vein as Euclid who postulated the world can be straight lines, triangles, cubes, etc).

But once again — the real world is messy, chaotic, unpredictable, random, and there are certain limits to our knowledge and understanding of the world. This bothers a lot of people because it makes people afraid. Many people don’t like the thought that they don’t have complete control over the world and their own lives. But we brave photographers and individuals find our delight and joy in randomness and chaos.

Perhaps that is why imperfect is beautiful.

We find the beauty in chaos, randomness, and chance! This is pure beauty.