Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments (2) Posted 01.26.14 | PERMALINK | PRINT

John Foster

Imperfect Beauty


For years, and more recently with Vogue magazine, there has been considerable controversy about high fashion magazines and their need to “perfect” the models who appear within the magazines and especially on their covers. This desire for perfection in photography is certainly not new to fashion or photography, but the fashion industry goes to extremes in changing body styles to what they think we want to see.

With that in mind, this week I have selected 26 photographic images with either deliberate or accidental flaws. Marks, scratches, poor processing, decay, age deterioration, repairs, cracks, tears, rips, and more. Here's to the beauty of imperfect images, and to the beauty to be found in imperfection.

Click on any image to find the source.


 Imperfect Beauty
Total eclipse of moon on cracked glass plate

 Imperfect Beauty
Photo by Miroslav Tichý

 Imperfect Beauty
Mirror-reversed daguerreotype of the moon, attributed to John W. Draper, believed to have been taken March 26, 1840 from his rooftop observatory at New York University.

 Imperfect Beauty
Torn and Marked Photograph of Hands

 Imperfect Beauty
Pieced together photograph of young man

 Imperfect Beauty
Repaired photograph

 Imperfect Beauty
Retouched press photo

 Imperfect Beauty
Badly deteriorated photo of 19th century gentleman

 Imperfect Beauty
Artist unknown, possibly intentional manipulation of old photograph

 Imperfect Beauty
Marked on photograph

 Imperfect Beauty
Natural deterioration of photograph

 Imperfect Beauty
Glass plate photograph of painting in extreme decay
Collection of John Foster

 Imperfect Beauty
Nicely torn image of woman

 Imperfect Beauty
Decayed or damaged negative from The Turconi Collection

 Imperfect Beauty
Decayed or damaged negative from The Turconi Collection

 Imperfect Beauty

Collection of John Foster

 Imperfect Beauty
Haphazardly cut photo for publication

 Imperfect Beauty
Effect of the heat!

 Imperfect Beauty
Deteriorated photograph

 Imperfect Beauty
Oddly deteriorated emulsion

 Imperfect Beauty
Deteriorated glass plate of Missouri bridge
Collection of John Foster

 Imperfect Beauty
Deteriorated glass plate of Missouri riverboat
Collection of John Foster

 Imperfect Beauty
Intentionally damaged photo, collection of © Nick Osborne, The Boat Lullabies

 Imperfect Beauty
Intentionally damaged photo, collection of © Nick Osborne, The Boat Lullabies

 Imperfect Beauty
Deteriorated photo, collection of © Nick Osborne, The Boat Lullabies

 Imperfect Beauty
Extremely damaged photo, collection of © Nick Osborne, The Boat Lullabies
Share This Story

RELATED POSTS


The Private World of Martina Kubelk


Accidental Mysteries, 10.21.12


Blues, Baptisms, and Prison Farms: The Lomax Snapshots of 1934-1950


Accidental Mysteries: 07.15.12


Solitude in Dark Trees



RSS Subscribe to Comment Feed

Comments (2)   |   JUMP TO MOST RECENT >>

As they say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

A visual feast, thanks!
Rusty Dylan
01.27.14 at 02:29

Mostly this is correct as far as fashion photography has been concerned. However many photographers have gone against this grain, including the grungy, carelessly developed Polaroid 665 & 55 fashion work of Sarah Moon (one example: http://www.pbase.com/belyaevsky/image/92356549).

In the work shown here I don't see the glass plate work of Sally Mann or the many photographers using lowfi cameras such as the original Diana 151 camera and the Holga - as well as mention of the revival of processes such as ambrotype, tin type, pinhole, direct positive and wet plate collodion.

One such photographer of note, Mark Silk, moved from shooting with a Diana in the 70s and 80s to wet plate in the 2000s. Social media sites such as Flickr will show an abundance of trained and untrained photographers shooting specifically for the distressed look as depicted in the images in this article.

Of course the concept of imperfect beauty is derivative of the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic.

gregorj
01.30.14 at 08:54



LOG IN TO POST A COMMENT
Don't have an account? Create an account. Forgot your password? Click here.

Email


Password




|
Share This Story



John Foster and his wife, Teenuh, have been longtime collectors of self-taught art and vernacular photography. Their collection of anonymous, found snapshots has toured the country for five years and has been featured in Harper’s, Newsweek Online and others.
More >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS