Perfectly Captured Paris

Somehow, Paris looks nicer in its photos. When I walked on its almost cliché cobbled streets and saw its streets, narrow and bending, I tried to capture its essence in an instant. This looks interesting — snap. That looks cool––snap. But it’s only when I get home, when I have those photos loaded up into my computer ready for the edit, that I see that I’ve somehow captured more than I expected when I snapped those photos.

Filtered, edited, cleaned up for more exposure and less contrast, Paris breathes life through what was captured inside the frame. I’ve found life in my photos I didn’t see when I was there. I see the people inside. I wonder about their stories: what brought them there to have coffee with each other that afternoon?

I can only imagine those stories playing out. I don’t know their stories––I’m only a passerby. Except, not knowing is what makes these photos special to me. I can fit a hundred thousand stories to each of these faces.

Perhaps that tells a story on its own. It’s not that the city of lights don’t have character when you’re breezing through its streets, it’s that the character that you most often see in movies and hear in songs has to be polished into perfection. Except there is no such thing as perfection, is there?

Perfection is an elusive little thing, always in sight but never in reach. It taunts you with its beauty, gloats with its gleam. It’s the thing you want to have because it just looks so good, so easy, so effortless.

But what about the story behind that perfection? No one really asks about that. We see photos and paintings of our favourite cities and build stories and myths around them. We scroll through our news feeds and tap through Snapchat. Someone else’s life always looks a little shiner.

It’s not a revolutionary concept. A lot of people have talked about this before me. But it’s something that’s been on my mind.

Because I keep telling myself that there’s no such thing as perfection. I keep telling myself it’s okay to be imperfect, that… what’s that thing they say to make you feel better?

There’s perfection in imperfection. I’m perfect the way I am. Or something along those lines, I’m not sure.

People say it’s okay to be you, that you don’t have to measure up to the shininess you see in magazines and on movie screens because that is an illusion. Yet somehow I get this feeling being me isn’t enough. I have to bend my will. I have to be better than myself. I have to measure up to something.

And here is where I reach a brick wall.

Who do I have to be?

Maybe if I were one of these people in my photos, that would be better. They’re frozen in that moment and there is nothing that they can do that can be wrong.

Because being me?

That only seems to end in disappointments.

There is no filter I can choose, no levels or curves to edit, nothing to make me better in real life.

I want to say that it’s what makes me better than the photos — that it makes me real. That I may not be perfect, that I may have things I never want to compromise on, that I am not the perfection I see on my photos, but that is what makes me real.

That perfection in that instant is not real, but I am real. I want to say that is what will make things okay.

But I don’t have the answers. I can’t measure up to expectations. I don’t know if that’s all it takes. There’s no perfectly wrapped up bow tie ending to this one, I’m sorry. I’m still trying to figure it all out myself. I just hope being real is enough.