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  • Writer's pictureMichael Spatola

Wabi Sabi

Wabi-sabi is the view or thought of finding beauty in every aspect of imperfection in nature. It is about the aesthetic of things in existence, that are “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.

Another definition I found is that Wabi-sabi represents a precious cache of wisdom that values tranquillity, harmony, beauty and imperfection, and can strengthen your resilience in the face of materialism. It gently motions you to relax, slow down, step back from the hectic modern world and find enjoyment and gratitude in everything you do.

Watching some You Tube mini documentaries on various photographers, I became interested in the work of Moriyama Daido, a Japanese photographer, whose work is very Wabi Sabi- beautiful in it's imperfection. I felt something beyond just a pretty picture when I looked at his work. It was almost like he was helping me recall a memory.

Normally, the women I create sessions for come to me because they want the fantasy version. They want to see images of themselves that still look like them, but on their very best day. And, I believe they absolutely deserve that. So, when I was thinking about doing this shoot, I didn't think many of my clients will be interested in it, because most want to look as perfect as possible. When showing all the imperfections, I just couldn't see many wanting it. So, I figured I would do it just for me as an experiment. But as you can see in the results, the images, although not polished and posed perfectly, tell a bit of a story, they show thoughtfulness, emotion, and make you wonder, “what’s on her mind?”

The images in this article are of of K'Ashia.

There's another celebrated photographer named Nan Goldin that also photographs everything very realistically. It just looks like a memory would look. Having elements present in her photos that some might feel clutter the image, are actually part of the story she wanted to tell. All of her images are believed as real, and most likely were.

In the film The Last Samurai, one of the main heroes of the film, Katsumoto, is writing a poem about cherry blossoms. He tells Tom Cruise that one could search a lifetime looking for a perfect cherry blossom. But, at the end of the film, as he’s dying, recalls his unfinished poem, and he realizes, then relates “They’re all perfect!” To me, this statement embodies Wabi Sabi. There is beauty in every one of them, because of their uniqueness, and because nature is perfect even in all of it’s imperfections.

You, me, every person, every woman everyone- we should all be celebrated not for how perfect we look, but for what we are in this moment, and our uniqueness. So, in this series of images, you can see the hair is not perfectly styled, the makeup is simple, as if it’s what she’d do on herself on a daily basis. The poses are not perfect, and finally the images are not as polished and retouched as you might normally see from me, yet, they are still beautiful.

Of course, I did some more polished Boudoir images for her too, that more represented the type of work that I normally present. But for this article, I mainly just wanted to show the ones I felt were more Wabi Sabi.

What do you think? Wabi Sabi, perfect polished images, or somewhere in between?

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