The Best Available at the Time
Today I took this picture of a hummingbird. Well, I took many pictures of a couple of hummingbirds and this one was good enough to post. I know several photographers in my Facebook community who will look at this and bite their lip at my amateurish use of filters or aperture or whatever. That’s okay with me. While I wish the body wasn’t as blurry as it is, these suckers move fast, I don’t have 10,000 hours to dedicate to mastering the craft and at 52 I don’t really care whether someone harshly judges a picture I took. Photos are time stamps of what I was looking at in a particular moment. The 25 other photos I took to get this one go into the recycle bin.
I recently heard a Tim Ferriss podcast interview with Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York in which Stanton readily acknowledged that he’s not the best photographer, but that’s never been the point of it anyway. His real strength lies in pulling stories out of the people he photographs. And really that’s why people follow Stanton’s work. He’s a master at going deep with his subjects. He also mentioned that he’s interviewed and photographed thousands of people over the years, and most never make the final photoblog. Those cut either hold back, decide they’re not comfortable with what they said, or perhaps Stanton didn’t find it as interesting as another person he photographed.
Facebook is where we post pictures of the best of ourselves. Great sunsets or vacations, adventures we’re on, fun times with friends and family, etc. And I try to keep up as best I can, though I’ve toyed with the idea of deleting my Facebook account for years. I don’t because it’s the only way to keep in touch with people I grew up with, worked with years ago, moved far away or simply don’t see regularly. Some people hate Facebook because they feel like they’re not living as good a life as someone else. I believe most people will post the good stuff and not the challenges they may be going through in their lives. Which is why I appreciate those who open up about their struggles. Chasing perfection is a fools game. None of us are perfect. Judging yourself based on how many likes you get is a dead end game.
I was at two events over the weekend. The first was a Celebration of Life ceremony for my Aunt Debby. She was a remarkable, beautiful person who always got me smiling no matter how self-absorbed in teen angst I may have been at the time. She was incredibly perceptive and could see when you were struggling with something and give you a shoulder to cry on if you needed it, or infect you with her laughter until you forgot whatever the hell you were spun up about in the first place. I’m a better person for having known her, and strive to be better still.
The second event I went to was a party with my wife’s work friends. I didn’t know anyone but Kris there, but I make a living building bridges with people and rolled with the opportunity to get to know a lot of people in different stages of life. All good people, and I was struck by how close they were as a group. This was partly because they shared a common struggle to maintain dignity while working with two narcissistic VP assholes. Having worked for or with some truly narcissistic tools before it was easy to sympathize with them. I’ve learned not to blindly respect people just because they have a title, but for who they are and how they treat people.
The hummingbirds are constantly in the garden right now. Bee balm in particular is a hummingbird magnet. Wait a few minutes and you have one or two hummingbirds buzzing around. That meant I had plenty of chances to get a perfect picture, and yet never quite got there. Hummingbirds are curious creatures, and while I lingered near the garden waiting to check them out they would swoop in, hover a few feet from me and check ME out. Turnaround is fair play I guess. They didn’t seem overly concerned about my photos of them and whether I was getting their good side. If my photography and writing proves anything, its that perfection is… evasive. So be it. Sometimes you just need to go with the best available at the time and move on. This post is far from perfect, but I think it’s time to post it and move on to other things.