Should We Worship At The Altar of Sharpness?

This is not how it looked, but this is how I remember it.

This is not how it looked, but this is how I remember it.

There are times when I am obsessed with sharpness, and deservedly so. But I am not dogmatic. There can be as many styles of photography as there are people with cameras. In Rebecca Solnit’s River of Shadows, her biography of photographer Eadweard Muybridge, she shares that 19th century impressionist painters derided photography as an art form because it was – wait for it – too unrealistic. Photography freezes time, but time does not freeze. An impressionist painting, because it incorporates effects of time and motion, therefore offers a truer-to-life experience.

It’s an interesting story. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m not comfortable with landscape photography. I take a more impressionistic approach to landscapes – foregoing the high levels of detail common to the discipline – in part because I’m just too dang impatient to do it right. But my impatience is also part of my experience of the landscape – how it lives and changes in the moment and how I am part of it. I want to photograph the chill in the air and the rustle of brush in the gusty wind.  At times like that, I guess I like impressionism better than the Impressionists liked photography.