The perfect is the enemy of the good

I came across a little quote by Alan Ross this week that I'd like to share. Ross was Ansel Adams' assistant for a time, and the quote addresses a point I've spoken to before, namely that we don't make great work all the time, no matter how wonderful a photographer we are. I think it's a lovely little revelation and well put:

When I first went to work as Ansel’s assistant, one of the things that struck me the most was the realization, while going through boxes and boxes of his work, that he had made an awful lot of very ordinary photographs! I was somewhat stunned to learn that he had no illusions and no expectations that every film he exposed would wind up being another one of what he fondly called his ‘Mona Lisa’s. As an awe-struck young photographer in the presence of The Master, this revelation was an incredible relief to me; it came as a release from the burden of expecting myself to produce only perfection. It was better to experiment and try things that might work, and openly and simply respond to feelings than to over intellectualize. In fact I soon came to learn that one of Ansel’s favorite phrases was ‘The Perfect is the enemy of the Good!’
— Alan Ross, Photographer