In Search of an Excellent Mistake ~

A few days ago my wife sent me some iPhone pictures from Victoria BC, where she was visiting with her sister. As you can see from the lovely sample below, they appeared to have an odd blue-green cast about them, which she attributed to an old device in need of an upgrade. I, of course, attributed it my wife (an otherwise accomplished painter) having entered her Blue Period. We were both wrong. A little long-distance sleuthing determined where she had inadvertently changed a camera setting, and she was soon back to clean and predictable normality. Well, her pictures anyway. And of course, this lead me to thinking.

There are two kinds of mistakes, by my reckoning. The first one vexes us the most, because it all has to do with intentions. Through an insufficiency of experience or a lapse in attention, we miss an intended mark. It has disappointment written all over it. As photographers, this is where we fret over the details, because a lack of precision often leads to a lack of clients. We learn technology and practice technique over and over, trying to achieve zen-like perfection so we can hit our targets with apparent effortlessness. This is where craftsmanship comes from.

But the second kind of mistake is the one we should make from tie to time, but seldom do. It has about it the sublime grace of the unpredictable. It's not altogether concerned about the target you've set, because it sets its own, and takes you along for the ride. You may be rightly concerned about the proper rules of composition, of lighting, of posing -- you have, after all, spent a lifetime learning them. That's the point. You've begun to arrive at a place where those are seamlessly integrated into your way of thinking, and your way of seeing. Now go ahead and point your camera in any direction the fates lead you. You'll be happily surprised.

Serendipity happens only by mistake, but its one where the universe tips the scales in your favor for once. This is your Blue Period. This is where art comes from.

If I'm not mistaken.