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urban exploration and the beauty in imperfection

October 24, 2009

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Here I am, once again, with fingers poised on these little black keys, waiting for words to flow.  But I feel like a leaky faucet.  Drip, drip, drip, drought.  I haven’t really been present on this blog for quite awhile.  And it’s not for lack of stories, it’s not that the ink is crusty at the bottom of the pot.  The cup runneth over with ink, people.  I think it has more to do with the quest for perfection, which, as we all know, is where words go to die.  So I stop myself short or I write and reread and edit a post ad nauseum so that all that is left is bare bones, osteoporosis of prose cracking under the pressure.

The lovely Jen Lee asked us during her Truth & Consequences class to think back to the last time we wrote freely and what happened to make the flow stop.  I sat on the dock with the sun casting diamonds on Squam Lake and I thought, and thought and thought, waiting for the aha moment.  And it came. It seems to me, and the irony does not escape me, that I stopped writing freely when I started blogging.  The last time I wrote with abandon was when I lived in Nelson, BC.  Granted, I was a hippie at the time but there was also a collective sense of freedom in those mountains, an escape from the conservative corporate world, a mold sometimes so rigid that creativity feels stiffeled.  Maybe it was my carefree 20’s, maybe it was a laisser faire attitude in a place where notbody expected me to have my shit together.  Or perhaps it had to do with the fact that I was spilling my guts in a cheap dollar store notebook and not online for all to see. Because you see, as much as I’d like to think that I’m writing just for me, I actually invest a lot too much energy caring about what other people think of me.

And then Kristen sent me this link and I have been obsessed with Vivian Maier ever since.  She was a street photographer from 1950-1970.  “A French socialist, a feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person.  She wore a men’s jacket, men’s shoes and a large hat most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn’t show anyone.”  She didn’t show anyone.  This, and the fact that her street photography is pure genius, struck a major chord.  This woman was not taking photos to impress or please or seek acceptance & attention.  She was doing it for the pure love of the craft.  Such should be the basis for all our creative endeavors, going back to the root of why we do it in the first place regardless of how much money it will put in our bank account or how  people will view it (good and bad). There is so much more freedom in the creative process when you can ignore the critics and let go of the perfection of it all.  Pfffferfection is what I intend to call it from now on.  Utterly overated.

So, for the sake of caboshing the head of the perfectionist beast and inspired by Ms. Maier’s work, I sifted through photos that I took this summer as I explored my fair city.   I chose those deemed not good enough to make the cut – the blurry, the overexposed, the underexposed, the crooked.  Those that represented something urban or candid or raw. And then I desaturated them because there is something about black and white that is very forgiving. Perhaps because it appears from another time so we half expect the imperfection and find beauty in it.  I encourage you to do the same.  It was a fun and liberating exercise.  Find the artistry in those shots you would normally flush in the recycle bin. I’d love to see them if you wish to share.

And on that note, I’m pressing publish.  This post is good enough.  And PS.  So are you!

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2009 6:12 pm

    these images are fucking incredible. i don’t like to cuss on blogs, but dude, i’m in love with every last one. xo

  2. October 24, 2009 6:32 pm

    These are gorgeous Jeanine! I love your post. I realized something similar in Jen Lee’s class: I stopped writing freely when I shared my blog URL at Squam 2008. Being afraid of what people thought made my posts less raw, more superficial.

    I love your idea of finding our “less-than-perfect” photos and transforming them by going black & white. I might give it a try. And for the record, I think your photos are perfect in their imperfection – or to quote Kristen, “fucking incredible”. 🙂


  3. October 24, 2009 8:33 pm

    so much goodness to love, i can’t even begin to start. i just can’t. i see several i can imagine on my walls.

    i need to practice this – i think i’ve tied up my photography so much in stinking rules that i’ve lost the kernel of….henri that i love.

  4. October 24, 2009 11:54 pm

    Wow, Jeanine. Wow. Wow. Wow.
    So much truth to this post.
    And your “out takes” are just as beutiful as all of your other images.
    (And I walk away with my tail between my legs after the email I sent you yesterday…)

    I really need to put this mor into my daily practice…of everything.
    Thank you for this post, my Dear.

  5. October 25, 2009 2:15 am

    Damn girl – these are the shots you thought you should delete? They are amazing. Love your blog – long time stalker. My best friend reads you too – you’ve inspired her to travel solo. Thank you.

  6. safstar permalink
    October 25, 2009 3:29 am

    ‘goddamn’ was my cuss of choice. that was fantastic. thank you for allowing me to start my day with an awesome boost of AMAMZING.


  7. October 25, 2009 9:49 am

    Here’s to being “good enough”…fabulous photography and art in all it’s forms. How strange we are when it comes to words and flow…I seem to write better when I blog than I do when I sit down to compose…perhaps I expect nothing more of myself at that time…something good to go away and think about…

  8. October 25, 2009 12:21 pm

    That bridesmaid photo is just genius. I keep thinking that I need an offline writing venue that I can keep to myself, but so far I use my blog just to get myself writing at all in any format.

  9. October 26, 2009 3:36 pm

    I took your challenge and I posted some pics at my blog.
    Thank you again for this post…XO

  10. Sue permalink
    October 28, 2009 12:10 pm

    Fabulous pics!…I love black & white. and sepia. and antiquing…
    Your writing is pretty good too! 🙂

  11. wingedpaths permalink
    October 29, 2009 1:12 pm

    Those are beautiful, truly.

  12. October 29, 2009 5:38 pm

    I have to tell you, I think these photos are absolutely amazing. Just incredible. I am completely in love with the Montreal image. Oh, I do have a thing for typography and signage. All your images tell so many stories. I am dying to snuggle that sweet little cat face. And, her pokey-outey little belly button just makes me smile. I just know her precious baby had a smile as wide as Momma’s. I’d like to see more. More and more. Please?

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