The blurred road to perfection

by anketroeder

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All illustrations in this post copyright  Janika Kefel. All rights reserved.

Perfection is overrated, I keep saying.

This photo project presentation from one of my students back in 2009 proved the point so well that I remember it as if it was yesterday.

Anyone who is new to photography or has ever tried to take decent wild life images will find much that resonates. And there is an awful lot in that lesson for anyone interested in public speaking and presenting, too.

JK had her problems with talking freely like the rest of my class of young designers, but she was great at drawing, and for her final talk we had discussed how she could best use her specific skill set in order to make her feel as much at home as possible.

JK’s talk was great visual story telling and comic relief all rolled into one, but it was more than that; it was great content, and great delivery, and it wowed us all to see how she had overcome her difficulties as a speaker and a budding photographer within one and the same project.

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So how did she do it?

  • JK took us along for the ride. She showed us how she had prepared for her very first photo project at our design department (shot at Hanover Sealife aquarium)
  • She showed us how being prepared is everything and being overprepared is nothing and how there is always something you did not expect.
  • She showed us how difficult it is to take photographs of moving animals, even more so in an articifial environment: a starfish was the only object she managed to get.
  • She showed and talked us through her learning experience with time and available light, and we felt with her, and we laughed with her.
  • She also showed us how, after tons of useless images, she came to realize that she had set her goals all wrong and she changed direction in mid flight: Instead of trying to avoid motion blur, she went after it, she hunted it down, and the results speak for themselves.

As for content, the only thing missing were some hard facts, some guidelines as to aperture and shutter speed, something on settings. But then JK’s talk was not about hard facts (which can easily go into a separate hand-out), quite the opposite. And that is exactly why it worked so well for everyone in the room.

Thanks for letting me use your story here!