A disease called perfection

I know full well that photography and other creative industries are extremely competitive. In fact, I am reminded of that every time I have to give a price estimate.  The law of Supply and Demand applies to photographers just the same that it applies to those who make widgets.  The more skilled you are, the higher your standards, the more you can charge, etc…  I think everyone understands that, yet, lately I’ve seen the inverse of this among self-proclaimed newbies and amateurs.

I had a conversation with an aspiring filmmaker who promised his crew that he would never make a film that wasn’t excellent.  Another guy recently asked me some pointed questions about how to maintain his “extremely high standard of quality.”  When I stop and think about it, I realize that I too was at one time guilty of this disease called “perfection.”

In our zeal to pursue something that is creative, fun, and challenging; many of us are too afraid to fail that we rob ourselves of opportunities to learn from our mistakes. Now that I look back at my own beginnings in photography I realize that I was doing myself a disservice.  Instead of taking risks and basking in the freedom to fail I too often played it safe, or worse, pretended to be a professional so that I could land a big client.

Why is it that we are always in a hurry to get somewhere?  As kids we can’t wait to grow up and drive the car, go to college, or get married.  As a young professional we spend so much time trying to prove ourselves to others.  I think we’d be much better off if we shed the burden of success and realized that failure is inevitable. If we viewed mistakes as a chance to learn something then we might actually make something truly excellent some day.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough!  Inspire others with the things you do now –not the things you’re going to perfect some day.  Try something creative and don’t worry about the results.  Just learn from the experience and enjoy the process! After all, that’s probably why you got into photography/music/art in the first place.

3 thoughts on “A disease called perfection

  1. Stephen,

    I’ve been meaning to comment on this one — yours was similar to my “Motivation” post, but covering slightly different ground. Thanks for posting it!

    I’m up for a get-together — I’ll shoot you an e-mail :-)


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