Perfect In Its Imperfections

Jun 28, 2017 / Photography / Influences / how to be creative

Iago, Study from an Italian (1867) by Julia Margaret Cameron
Iago, Study from an Italian (1867) by Julia Margaret Cameron.


I just finished reading Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I loved it.

One thing that I had to get used to though, as I was reading the book, was the language. It was so dense and convoluted.

The language reminded me of one of my photographic influences, Julia Margaret Cameron, who lived at around the time Pride & Prejudice was set.

In 1863, when Julia Margaret Cameron was 48 years old, her daughter gave her a camera as a gift. She became an enthusiastic amateur after that. She converted a chicken house into a studio and and a coal-house into a darkroom. She had her family, house-maids, and artist friends and neighbors sit for portraits.

She was really an amateur or hobbyist, but she didn’t care about that.

My aspirations are to ennoble Photography to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real & Ideal and sacrificing nothing of Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and beauty.

Julia Margaret Cameron

She went her own way with photography. Instead of having portraits in-focus and sharp, she made them out-of-focus and soft.

My first successes in out-of-focus pictures were a fluke. That is to say, that when focusing and coming to something which, to my eye, was very beautiful, I stopped there instead of screwing on the lens to the more definite focus which all other photographers insist upon.

Julia Margaret Cameron

She is credited for pushing the photography medium as an art-form, equivalent to painting. Photography was not just a mechanical output. It was art.

You know what this tells us?

It’s never too late to start. If you’ve ever hesitated to start something because you’re too old, well there’s your answer.

Another thing that this tells me is that there is perfection in imperfection. A conventional image that is in focus, with accurate color, is boring. Give me something out of the ordinary, something different. An imperfect image is perfect.

About the Author

Jonah Calinawan

Hello! I’m Jonah Calinawan, and I create cyanotype art that makes you think and feeds the soul. I also blog about the quest for a meaningful life using art and positivity.

When not shooting photos or writing, I teach myself piano and recommend Josh Wright’s Propractice tutorials (affiliate link).

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