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Perfection or Progress: Which Should You Choose?

When I look at the work of other photographers, I often think that my images are far from perfect. I can have a poor exposure, a badly composed image, no well-defined subject or even (perish the thought!) a blurry image. So, I could say that I am constantly trying to perfect my images.

But is that really the case, and is it perfection I’m looking for or should I be happy with progress?

I pondered this question on a recent photo walk, and I hope my conclusions will be of benefit if you are asking yourself the same question.

Perfection or progress: which should you choose?



I was standing in the spot where I had taken this photograph a few weeks earlier. I like the image, it was my favourite image of that morning, but on this occasion, I was wondering if I could improve on it. The light was better, I had a better lens with me, and I was more prepared to line up my composition correctly.

But there was no bird on the tree.

I waited to see if a bird would come but to no avail. So even though some of the elements of a good photograph were present there was no subject and I couldn’t get a better image.

Initially I was disappointed. I wanted to come away with an even better image than last time. Then I asked myself, what’s wrong with the image I have? Is it perfection I’m looking for?

I don’t honestly think it is.

I don’t believe I will ever achieve perfection in photography and I’m not sure that anyone does. Sure, sometimes an image will be as close to perfect as you can get it, and that’s worth striving for, but in my opinion a better goal is progress. Striving for progress will ensure that I’ll always have something to work towards. I’ll always have a challenge to overcome, a problem to solve or a discovery to make. I’ll always have something to keep me interested and motivated; something to keep me learning and improving.

Perfection is an end product, and even if we do reach it, we can go no further.

Continual progress is the journey that affirms us and keeps us striving to do better. It is what motivates us, challenges us and keeps photography interesting.

Perfection or progress?

Which should you choose?


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