Overcoming the Perfection Pitfall

Okay… So you may notice that last week I kind of dropped off the grid… and I’m actually a little sorry about that. I just VERY much needed a break after smashing through two science tests, and I hope you’ll forgive me on being human. =P But this isn’t what I want to talk about today so let’s dig in!

Perfection: The condition, state or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

Defect: A shortcoming, imperfection, or lack.

Flaw: A mark, fault, or other imperfection that mars a substance or subject.

I have a tendency at times to not be perfect. SHOCKER!!! Can you relate? But as wedding photographers, with Pinterest and Instagram screaming in our faces, we often feel the pressure of perfection, and when we see the slightest defect or flaw in our photography… we take it incredibly personally. We feel as if we have totally failed if we forget to grab a photograph of the musician at a ceremony. And sometimes it’s things that aren’t even our fault, like when no one tells us that the bride is standing outside praying with her father, and no one thinks to tell us. We often find ourselves being the ones who just can’t seem to measure up. This happened to me at a wedding recently. The event was going spectacularly. The bridesmaids were constantly complimenting each other. The groomsmen were poking fun at each other. And most importantly the bride and groom, though nervous, were good. Everyone was good. Everything was great! Getting ready photos were rocked, the ceremony was nearly perfect, and after that, all you really have to do is the reception, and that’s the easy part! Or… it should be…

But then humanity kicks in. That inevitable companion that reminds me that I am not the ruler of the universe, and then despite all my preparation, at times I will still fall short. So what happened? I’ve started doing slideshows at my weddings so that the bride and groom can at least get a GLIMPSE of their day before it ends. And it’s a great idea! Most couples really appreciate it and it brings huge smiles to their faces… But this time I made a mistake, and spent too much time on the slideshow without taking moments to check back in on the reception events. In so doing, I missed a really big moment… Not catastrophic! After all, this is why you bring a second photographer to weddings. They cover you where you have gaps. But it hurt my pride all the same. It was fine! We were good! Yet… I never really recovered. I was stuck in what I like to call “The Perfection Pitfall.” It’s a mindset that creeps in under the guise of humility, but is most often driven by the waves of pride. It COULD have been bad. Sure! But I had already covered my bases by having a second photographer. Yet I couldn’t shake my mind from it. My pride told me I had failed… when in all reality, I had SUCCEEDED by making sure I had a trusted assistant there. The moment was captured.

My portfolio took a small hit, but at a wedding, MY PORTFOLIO is the LEAST of concerns. What is most important when the wedding ends? I got home and pieced together a beautiful representation of the wedding day’s events. And you know what? I’d call that a success. And now I’ll never make that mistake again.

When we aren’t enough, we have to remember that it’s not about us, photographers. It’s about the couple we’re there to photograph!!! At that wedding… the JOY I’d had earlier in the day was gone… and it didn’t have to be! I had photographed a perfect day up to that point with few errors or missed opportunities. I didn’t NEED to lose my joy. I chose to let the blow to my pride take away the happiness that comes from photographing a wedding. NO! NO NO NO! Above learning how to better schedule the slideshow time to maximize photography time, I learned a lesson on defeating pride.

I will never be a perfect photographer who gets every shot I want, and that’s okay. I will keep learning, and while I do that, I’ll remember that I don’t do this for me. I work because I LOVE marriage. I love that we have such a great representation of the way God loves us! When I get to photograph a TRULY loving couple, I leave feeling SO GOOD! And it’s not because the images I’ve produced are good. It’s because I loved capturing their relationship! It’s because I love couples.

So, to any photographers reading this… don’t get down on yourself when you make fixable mistakes. Remember your why. Why do you do this wedding thing or family thing or senior thing? Why do you do photography!? Cling to that!

Why am I a photographer? Because people matter. Time moves on. People die. Yet through me, people can remember. It’s not about our portfolio. It’s not about our pride.

It’s about love.

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To God be the glory,

daniel jackson