Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Price of Perfection

What does it mean?
To the average person it's the clearest, sharpest noise/grain free image they can produce. Internet forums are filled with people all trying for that 'ultimate quality' image.
Last Christmas I was given a copy of Henri Cartier-Bressons' 'Scrapbook'. I have been a admirer of his work (along with Brandt, Brassaï and Kertesz) for many years, but what struck me about the facsimiles of the photos in this book is how many slightly soft, grainy or less than technically perfect images (although great compositionally) it contained.
Almost the exact opposite of the images, we see bombarded at us every day on advertising hoardings, magazines and web-sites across the globe.
There seems (to me at least) to be an intolerance of anything that isn't technically perfect, a need to produce smooth toned, sharp, noise free and ultimately sterile images, where the image quality is valued over the image content.
Just look at the internet if you need proof, plenty of images of dogs, cats, ducks, cityscapes etc. all to show the 'blistering sharpness' of the latest multi-megapixel wonder that 'blows away' all previous incarnations of the digital camera.
The pictures in this post were taken on out of date fast film, on an old camera/lens combination that most would think of as being obsolete.
Yet somehow for me they embody why I continue to take images, and why in the world of perfect images, I search for imperfect images like the ones in this post.

All images and text © Mark Antony Smith 2007