Does Every Image Have To Be Perfect?

July 06, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Do your images have to be perfect?

A plant in muddy water
In Muddy Waters. ©Rajiv Chopra

At Kurukshetra

I shot the image that you see above at Kurukshetra. It is some sort of paddy plant, or just a plant, in the muddy waters of the paddy fields. 

Kurukshetra gets its fame mainly because of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. It was at Kurukshetra that the great armies of the warring cousins, the Pandava brothers and Kaurava brothers, went to war. 

Krishna recited the Bhagwata Gita here at Kurukshetra. 

I did not realize, when I visited Kurukshetra, that the ‘region’ also has an excellent university and lots of paddy fields. 

It was a gloomy day when I went exploring. I stood there in the slush and photographed the fields and the farmworkers. 

Film. And Digital Perfection

I have said this often enough, but I will repeat it again. I started off shooting film. 

You may say that my approach to photography has always been ‘raw’. Emotions and the visual story have always been important. I would say that they have been vital. 

Over the last few years, I have gone through millions (it seems), of Photoshop videos. I have seen photographers clone, warp, add in stuff and do all sorts of crazy stuff. In many cases, the resulting perfect image has ended up being a bit sterile. 

Often, it is hard to distinguish the style of one photographer from another. This is especially so for long-exposure fine-art photographers.

Where do you draw the line?

This Image.

The Start Point ©Rajiv Chopra

This is where I started. It’s messy. Nature is messy. We will never get a perfect scene. 

So, I did clean up the image quite a bit, as you will see from the top image. You will also notice that I kept a bit of muck. 

A defect on the leaf
A defect on the leaf ©Rajiv Chopra

Scroll back up to the top of the image. You will see some signs of leaf decay in one of the leaves. I left it there in the final image. 

My decision to do so was deliberate. I wrestled with myself for a long while. In the end, I decided to leave it in.

Birth, life and death form a continuum along which we must travel. Sometimes the decline is sudden. At other times, it is gradual. 

I could have spent an hour cleaning up every little defect. Was my decision not to do so the correct one? 




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