The Ohio Diaries | The Pursuit of Imperfection
I am far outside my comfort zone with this project. Normally, on a travel excursion like this, I would shoot photographs every day and not look at them until I returned home. Upon doing so, I might take hours just to work through the shots, pick the ones I like, and then process them to get a certain look and feel. Even of those down-selected images, I would likely take additional time to further select only the most "perfect" shots before publishing them. Of course, what does "perfect" even mean?
This idea of perfection is something I've been grappling with for a while now, and was on my mind leading into the start of this project. In the context of my photography work, knowing ahead of time that I'm going to be cataloging and culling photos to find my "best" ones has subconsciously changed the way I approach shooting. I think less about the images, and shoot more, which is the opposite of what I want to be doing. There is also a temporal gap between capturing the images and curating them, which I feel dulls the mood associated with each image and, in turn, affects the way I process them for style.
The reason I'm outside my comfort zone with this project is because I put myself here. I've been purposely shooting less and not curating the images before sharing them. Instead, I'm focused on getting the shots that directly reflect a specific mood and moment I'm trying capture, and I'm not taking any time (relatively speaking) to figure out narratives to go with the images.
Another challenge I've given myself with this project is to capture the essence of emotion, place, and time without any edits to the photographs. No tweaking, no cropping, and no RAW conversation. The visual style across this series has been created entirely in-camera, and even the manner in which I shoot has been adjusted for the sake of capturing the specific look in each image.
When I first started blogging (back in 2005, when anyone who was anyone had a blog) I enthusiastically created content almost daily, but never every single day. I just didn't have that much material to share. But with The Ohio Diaries, I specifically wanted to publish at least one page per day, if for no other reason than to keep my motivation high for capturing new images. It has been very challenging to keep up this pace of publishing, but in forcing myself to do it, I can feel my concern for "getting everything just right" dissolve away.
Who does this sort of thing on vacation? Good question. I suppose the primary reason for The Ohio Diaries was to force myself to get more comfortable with unrefined work; to stop trying to create things that are flawless. I call it my pursuit of imperfection, and it's not just about art. Perfection can drive people mad; it can slow innovation; and it can prevent brilliant work from being celebrated. The feeling of something never being good enough is what I'm trying to break apart and grow from. But this is a journey for me, and I'm not entirely sure where I'll end up. From there, only time will tell if I decide to stay.
Footnotes: All images, unedited JPGs from Fujifilm X-T2 with various lenses.