Why I Stopped Caring About Technical Precision in my Personal Work

julius motal the phoblographer technical precision

I’ve spent too much time taking technically sound images. By that, I mean images that have all the right elements: exposure, focus, composition, depth of field. When I discovered what bokeh was way back when, I had to get a lens that was an f1.something. The colors would pop, the composition was decent, there was a clear subject. They had all the trappings of aesthetically pleasing photographs, but they were artistically and emotionally bankrupt. I was dead set on making images that ticked off boxes that only the camera could tick off.

Images that don’t make you feel anything aren’t really images worth looking at. I realized that mine were quickly slipping into a void, and that I needed to get rid of them. More over, something had to change. I had to stop prioritizing technical precision. My photographs look alright, but had no heartbeat. I needed to find a way to keep them from flatlining.

Largely, that meant letting go of all the nifty things my cameras could do. I also made a conscious move towards mobile photography, which, despite its limitations technically, has been a liberating experience artistically and emotionally. Images that I might have deleted from my camera, I kept from my phone. Sharpness has, in some ways, taken a backseat. Bokeh stopped being a thought. I didn’t care about the megapixel count.

I’ve been able to get closer, which has done wonders. My images are slowly starting to develop a heartbeat. This is, of course, personal work, what I shoot on my own time in between assignments. I’m not about to hand in blurred images with off-kilter compositions because that would be unwise. As I experiment more and look at work that moves me, I find that I’m much more willing to be technically forgiving.

The camera can only accomplish so much. Fancy specs won’t do anything for a photograph emotionally, and thankfully, I’ve learned to stop worrying about spec sheets. The camera is a means to an end, not the end in itself. It’s almost never about the camera you’re using. It’s about the person behind the lens and life happening on the other side. For me, getting there means letting go of the spec sheet.