As I’ve been shooting film exclusively since the turn of the year, a curious thing has happened. I’ve actually started to see through the fog of perfection. I’m probably not alone with the struggles of my own good, bad or indifferent photography.

What do I like, why do I bother, why do I like this or that shot? I’ll just go back a little…I’m genuinely moved by the likes of Daido Moriyama, Saul Leiter, William Klein to name a few, and that the reason I like their work respectively is for it’s freedom, expression and emotion.

They knew in their selves what they had, they believed it, maybe not all the time, but they at least seemed to have the conviction to follow their hearts and just do what they do. But more than this, they make me feel like I’m with them, there on the street as they shoot, or they make me feel like I want to be with them, or be the subject of their gaze.

I’ll use the word emotion again, it’s personal to me but without it, a photograph is lacking and this is where perfection vs imperfection has hit me like a train! I now study my own work from a different perspective, I sort of always have, but now with clarity in my mind. I have pinned to my wall a checklist of sorts, think of a tag cloud but in ink, real ink!

It doesn’t contain words like sharpness, brightness, contrast, or even composition. It does contain words like, emotion, time, love, anger, people, and home to name few. I measure my work against the second list, totally… Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem if my pictures are pin sharp or not, or hit the composition mark or not, I love a good sharp well composed image, but it is not in any way how I measure them anymore. Rather I ask myself am I smiling or angry, stressed or relaxed, do I remember those people I don’t know and am I proud of the picture I took.

If I answer these questions with a yes, then I know I’m happy succeeding in doing what I love doing. Shot with a Leica M6 and Ilford HP5

Steve Coleman –

I’d like to dedicate this little post to a member who used to be part of this collective – Jack Mayall, I think he knows exactly what I mean, he loves vinyl! Need I say more!


To learn more about the photographers mentioned in this post check out their respective pages on Artsy:

Daido Moriyama –

Saul Leiter –

William Klein –

2 Replies to “Perfect Imperfections”

  1. Great post Steve.
    I like imperfections as most of my images are! But heh I do photography for me so as you say it’s the memory it links you back to that matters to oneself.
    Love William Klein’s images and attitude


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