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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Great Photographers Never Seek Perfection

I take a bucketload of photos of my son every week.

And by son, I mean this little monkey. But that's not the point.<...>

Most of the photos are take are imperfect in some regard; especially since 90% of the photos I take are taken with my iPhone.

So what this means is that I don't always have the best equipment at the right time and in the right conditions to take a perfect photo.

Sometimes this means that the photo is blurry, because I couldn't focus perfectly. Or my photos are over-exposed, because it was just too sunny out. Or - and this happens often - I'm trying to take a photo in low-light conditions and the iPhone's camera sensor just isn't strong enough for that.

And addd to all of that, that I only pretend to understand the fundamentals of photography...

But I keep on taking photo after photo, because I'm capturing memories and it's never about taking a perfect photo. Even though I'd obviously love to take the best possible photo I can given my skill, equipment and conditions.

This past week I stumbled across the History in Pictures Twitter account.

Scrolling through all of those photos, you quickly realize that these photos have captured some of the biggest, best and craziest moments in the history of human civilization.

And you'd be hard-pushed to argue that these photographs aren't awesome in the way they captured those moments to tell the stories decades later.

But all of these photos are in black and white only.

No colour. No real (if any) post-processing. No opportunity to pick the perfect lens from an extensive collection.

Nope. None. Nada.

These photographers - who we can all consider to be great - used the basic equipment that was available to them at the time to capture these moments.

This worked out pretty well for them.

So where am I going with this?

This line of thinking brought me to two very distinct concepts that I had been exploring lately: limitations and imperfections.

Both of those have been a major part of my life, but especially my entrepreneurial journey thus far, where it's pretty much always felt that either my skills, the timing of an opportunity or just the challenges around a decision made things less than ideal.

In that sense, it feels like Adii, the photographer, and Adii, the entrepreneur, is very much an individual of the same mindset. Only that - as a photographer - I tend to deal better with those limitations and imperfections.

Startups - and mostly entrepreneurship - tends to conjure up all of these less-than-ideal situations. If we are however to succeed, we need to accept these limitations and imperfections and instead find a workaround.

So you're not technical, can't find a technical co-founder and to execute your idea, you need those technical skills. Why not work on something less technical? Or figure out how to solve the same problem in a less-technical way. Or teach yourself to code?

Or you currently have a day job with a young family at home, that makes quitting your job right now (to pursue a risky startup idea) pretty much impossible. On top of that, finding a couple of hours to bootstrap a side-project before or after work is hard, because being a spouse and parent is a full-time gig in itself. Well, could you spend one hour a day on a side-project? Or perhaps you can switch employment gigs to something that allows greater flexibility and a little more time to start this side-project? Or perhaps you can completely outsource V1 to a freelancer on the other side of the world?

This one is my favourite... You're not based in Silicon Valley or another tech hub, so finding investors to fund your idea is pretty much impossible. So you avoid starting up due to the lack of that seed money. What about bootstrapping? Or actually making your customers pay and turning them into your first investors? Or god-forbid, you pick another idea that doesn't require external seed money and which you can fund yourself?

The point I'm illustrating here is that no situation is ever ideal and you're not always going to have the perfect combination of skills, tools and timing to execute in the way you would have hoped.

But you can play the hand you've been dealt.

And that's what the great photographers of our age did when they captured these incredible moments and memories that lives on decades later.

They didn't give a shit about the basic equipment they had access to. They didn't lament their conditions. Instead they got on with the job in the best way they could and they snapped a photo.

Waiting for everything (skills, tools and timing) to align is like waiting for permission. Do that and you'll probably never make any progress.

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