I was perhaps playing devils advocate a few days ago when I listed all the negative aspects of perfectionism (there are plenty). But life is never black and white with clear boundaries, and certainly that can be more true in artistic endeavours.
So in this post, I want to talk about the positive aspects of perfectionism.
I would like to start by saying that if you are passionate about what you do, this means that you care deeply about the final result.
I would also add that you only release what you feel is your best work and strive towards making sure everything you do is done to your best ability.
Perfectionism if often about then end result. Making sure that what we output is good enough is really important to an artist who cares about his work.
Perfectionism is also responsible for setting a standard, making sure that we strive for the best we can do. In my own photography, I know that I am a perfectionist. I don’t want to release anything I can’t personally live with.
For instance, I had a very big calendar company approach me this week about putting a calendar together about Patagonia. They told me they loved what I do (I have to please myself first and foremost, so this is neither here nor there – this is perhaps another topic – listening to yourself and not caring what others think, positive or negative), but they said they wanted more images of Patagonia than were available on my site. Considering that I have more than 12 images of Patagonia on my site, which I felt gave plenty of scope for several calendars, I interpreted their request as ‘we would like to also see your sub standard images of Patagonia too’. Like I said, I only publish what I would be able to live with (we have to have our own standards), but it was clear that they didn’t care about my opinion about what was good or bad, which in some ways is ok because they may see something in an image that I do not, but overall, I felt that if I gave them the additional sub-standard images, I would be selling myself short. In other words, i would be selling out.
So I told them that the pics that they see on my site are the only ones I have for sale.
Perfectionism enables quality control. Without good quality control, we project a mixed signal to others about our own standards. I personally feel it is better to release a lower volume of good images than a lot of mediocre ones. Quality over quantity.
And that can only happen if we are perfectionists about what we do. Because if we are perfectionists, it means we care, and if we care, we are more than likely passionate.