Nothing is Perfect

Like a curious magpie, my eye is attracted by bright and shiny bits. I feather my photographic nest with silvery walls, abstract reflections, flares of sunshine – the modern and new; the sleek and lustrous.

And yet, there is also a strong attraction to the grunge of urban decay – the crumbling and moldering; the peeling and broken; the processes of disintegration and deterioration – subjects which, on the surface, may not seem worthy of exploration. Seeing the beauty in cracked concrete or peeling paint involves an internal process of looking deeper.

In her excellent series, “Urban Decay”, Kim Manley Ort has been exploring this subject in depth. Paired with wonderful images of rust, wood, walls and roads, Kim delves deeply into this topic. She writes: “When our judgments and projections fall away, we suddenly see in brand new ways. What was once seen as ugly or uninteresting or not worthy becomes miraculous.”

One of the artistic concepts that Kim explores is that of wabi-sabi, a Japanese aesthetic described as “beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” (via Wiki-pedia). Wabi -sabi “nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” (Powell, Richard R. (2004). Wabi Sabi Simple via Wiki-pedia).

I like this idea that nothing is perfect and, even more, that beauty can be found in that imperfection.

Thanks to Kim for providing the inspiration for today’s post.


Rusty Shadows


The Third Thursday Challenge link for April is still open – have you joined in? Show us how you are pushing yourself artistically and creatively this month and let us learn together.


Posted on April 25, 2013, in Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Nothing is perfect except your photos!
    In the first image, I love how that bottom, center pane of glass seems to contain a reflection or image of the whole scene. The lights and darks thoughout are just right.
    In the second image, the rust parallels the black line.
    In the third image you captured the graceful architecture–especially those arches and the name “House.”
    The last image has lovely light and textures.

    • Anita – thank you for your wonderful comment. Since I struggle with perfectionism, I am trying to learn from the concept of wabi-sabi – and accept that nothing is indeed perfect – and that beauty can be found there.

  2. I love the first photo — I love all of these, but the first is my favorite. The tiny windows, the brick foreground. Such deel textures and soft colors.

    • Bo – I shoot quite often at this abandoned car dealership – finding ways to interpret things differently each time is my personal challenge. It is definitely an ode to the wabi-sabi concept – finding beauty in the disintegration.

  3. I’m a big fan of the teachings and philosophy (is it a philosophy?) of wabi sabi. There is so much beauty in the overlooked…in the the decay. Wonderful images – as always!

    • Marcie – I had heard of the concept before but didn’t really understand its application to photography. Now I better understand the appeal of urban decay and the challenge of finding beauty hidden there.

  4. Thanks for the shout out, Brenda. Your images of rust and decay sure bring out the beauty in them. You can’t go wrong with colour, light, lines, and shadows.

    • Kim – many thanks to you for the inspiration – both through your words and the wonderful image examples. I always learn something when visiting your blog. I greatly appreciate what you share with your readers.

  5. These photos are stunning. My favorite is the first one. I love your description of wabi-sabi. Very useful to keep in mind.

    • Lisa – I like this concept of beauty in the imperfect. An idea that I need to embrace – since my “go-to” tendency is to search for perfection.

  6. Fabulous set of images. I read about wabi sabi somewhere too and was intrigued, I’ll have to visit Kim’s site and check out her project. Totally love the idea that beauty is in the imperfection.

    • Becs – it is freeing to accept that nothing is perfect and that we can find exceptional beauty in the imperfect.

  7. Hi Brenda–I love how you’ve illustrated the idea of imperfection within images that exemplify perfect photographic techniques like balance, line, diagonal composition, symmetry…

    Awesome as always!

    • Chris – this was a fun post to write – searching my archives for images to illustrate the “wabi-sabi” concept of beauty in imperfection. I greatly appreciate your comment.

  8. I’m thinking it would be a dull world if everything was perfect. I’m glad you’re showing us that imperfection has a beauty of its own.

    • Wanda – see, I would prefer a perfect world – one that is clean and shining and all lines are straight. Studying the wabi-sabi concept is good for a recovering perfectionist like me – learning to see beauty in the imperfection.

  9. I agree with Anita Bower…”Nothing is perfect, except for your photos.” YES! Stunning in their own right, and also beautiful reminders of the beauty to be found in the unexepected, in the every day, and in the unwinding of things. Wonderful post, Brenda, on a theme dear to my heart!

    • Juli – there are times when I feel slightly schizophrenic – loving the sleekness of the new and yet intrigued by decay and disintegration – subjects that seem to reside at opposite ends of the spectrum. And yet, both hold their separate attractions for me. I love your idea of the “unwinding of things” – so beautifully put.

  10. I love these images Brenda, particularly the first. So interesting & so much to look at!

    • Leanne – I found the concept of wabi-sabi an interesting one to consider – a way to explain the beauty that can be found in subjects such as these – an explanation for the attraction that I feel for them.

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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