Beauty in the Damage

Thursday, February 16th, 2012 12
Posted in: B&W, Community, Film, Polaroid, SOOC

As part of the Film26 project, I recently shared this Polaroid. This photograph was shot on the Impossible Project’s Poor Pod film, and given the nature of Poor Pod, I knew there would be a strong likelihood that the image would come out a little wonky. A little less-than-perfect. A little damaged. I suspected there would be parts of the image that wouldn’t develop, that might be stained, and that would show a little spotting. And I was correct.

Although this photo might be considered “damaged,” the more I look at it, the more I love it. I love the way you can still read Impossible on each film pack. I love the depth of field (the blurry background) and the little circles of bokeh in the top left. I love the tone of the image — the blacks, the whites, and the grays. I even love the top right of the photo that didn’t develop. I love the swoop of that undeveloped corner, like a painter took her brush and made a gentle stroke. I love the reddish-brown stain. It doesn’t obliterate the image, but rather gives it character and a kind of depth. I even love the tiny white specks and bubbles that show up randomly across the photo. They remind me of my own freckles strewn across my skin.

And that got me thinking of how this photograph is a metaphor for myself. A metaphor for each of us. Aren’t we all a little wonky? A little less-than-perfect? Don’t we all have parts of ourselves that are yet undeveloped? Don’t we each have our unique stains? Or own kind of spots? And in this so-called “damage,” I can see the beauty. Of this photo. Of me. Of you.

12 Responses

  1. Grace Moore says:

    Wonky is my middle name LOL x0x0x0x

  2. amy z says:

    YES! I think the beauty is almost always in the damage, the imperfect part. If we, and everything, were always perfect the world would be a pretty boring place. My damage (be it a scar or an emotional fragility) is what makes me uniquely me. And given that I like who I am (finally) I wouldn’t trade any of my damage because if it weren’t for that, I’d be someone different (and maybe less likable).

    I remember taking a photography class a long, long time ago where my instructor was a working photojournalist. I had taken great pride in carefully maintaining my gear. My camera body looked NEW. Her camera body looked like it had been through war. Then I looked at her images, and my images. Her’s were astounding, and mine looked like I was afraid to mess up my camera.

    That’s when I stopped caring so much about the gear and keeping it perfect, and started doing whatever it took to get the shot. The gear can be replaced, but a missed image is lost forever.

    And that was the moment I started to realize how beautiful imperfection is. The Japanese call it wabi-sabi. I wish we had a word for it as it might mean more universal acceptance of imperfection.

  3. Emily says:

    I love everything about this post — the picture, the sentiment, and the opportunity to reflect on it all. There is a line from a song which I listent to regularly about motherhood where the songwriters are talking about how strong your house is — and that “the broken parts are where the light shines through.” I see a Tribe activity in our future….

    Here is the song BTW:

    • Meghan says:

      Thanks so much, Em. Your song (and my post) reminds of a favorite Leonard Cohen song, Anthem, whose refrain is:
      Ring the bells that still can ring
      Forget your perfect offering
      There is a crack in everything
      That’s how the light gets in.

      Love it!

  4. Corinna says:

    You are perfectly beautiful, as is your work and your spirit.

    Also, what Amy Z said.

  5. Celina says:

    Yes! So very true. I love the photo too just as it is. A good lesson to look at ourselves with the same light.

  6. urban muser says:

    wonky? yes, that’s definitely me! great post.

  7. Meghan, nice to find you via the WDS list!
    I am a huge fan of taking photos of discarded, broken, rundown stuff. To me, a photo of a striking flower is not as meaningful as a photo of something unexpectedly beautiful. My favorite part of photography is being able to see the beauty in everything. That should be our goal in life after all – not only with ourselves, but with others!

  8. […] my affection for surprises and all things unexpected when it comes to shooting with film, you likely already know that I’d be into expired film. […]

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