Some of our strongest memories aren’t just of events, or people, or things — they’re of feelings. Or at the very least, feelings play a huge role in our memories and the rest of the cast and crew serve to give them context for how you remember those feelings.
Seeing a tablecloth pattern can make us salivate, the creases in a map can trigger wanderlust, and even a single strawberry can trigger an entire memory.
One of my favorite lines about photography is by Eddie Adams who said:
If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, that’s a good picture.
What you see is not always what a moment feels like, let alone what a camera wants to technically capture. What a camera is designed to capture is a 1:1 image to what you see visually. But because the camera doesn’t actually know what’s going on, it doesn’t know “right” from “wrong”.
The camera is trained not to want to let you blur your subjects, to fix up an overly orange image, and to ensure you don’t over-expose the sky. But sometimes, those imperfect features are exactly what remind you of that moment.
That’s why I compose and edit my shots the way I do; I give them some imperfections, keep unfocused objects in the near foreground, soften the colors, and etc. Because to me, it isn’t about capturing a technically accurate image, but rather, the true honesty and magic lie in capturing the
You don’t need to see everything in your shot, let your photo be that one paragraph you leaf to that makes you decide to buy the book you just blindly picked up rather than the shallow summary on the back.
It’s those “imperfections” that make the image trigger the memory of that moment — the edge of someone’s hand in the corner of an image, their unfocused face still clearly smiling in the background, or even a color-smudging flare from the sun. And I suspect that the Instagram-like mobile apps are popular partially for those same exact reasons.
Don’t sweat trying to make your photos look perfect; focus on framing the little things that really shape the moment: the edge of a hand, the corner of a smile, or even a shadow.
So ignore your camera’s warnings and embrace the “mistakes”; they’re what makes your photography human and they’ll help you capture a little slice of life.