I’ve been thinking a lot about this odd little photo in my collection. I found it at an estate sale in a tin box with about a dozen other pictures and some letters.


cracked glass negative imperfect picture


Aside from the captivating faces, expressions, and interactions in this picture, I was attracted by the cracks in the corners and across the middle. These exist because the glass negative was cracked when the print was created. The print itself is pristine.


The smallest glass negative size was 4 1/4″ by 3 1/4 inches—what is called a quarter plate. This print is smaller than that, at about 2 x 3 inches. Because it would be unusual (and pretty difficult) to make a print that is smaller than its original negative, I assume this photo is likely at least one generation removed from the original glass negative–in other words, it’s a copy of a copy. A backup.


We all have pictures like this in our collections. They are out of focus, someone’s not looking, or maybe they are partially cut out of the frame like the gentleman on the left who only has half a face. It’s poorly framed, too light, too dark. Maybe there is even a crease or tear in the print. Almost none of them are “perfect.” And yet somehow they still are.


Pictures don’t have to be technically perfect to be worth preserving. In fact, perhaps our most special pictures are, like this one, slightly flawed.


One of my favorites from my childhood is a slide I’ve only recently seen for the first time. I’m 4, and my friend and I sitting on some rocks at the beach, and we are 100% out of focus, but the background looks crisp and clear. I’ll put it up for you to see on my Facebook page. I think I like it so much because that entire experience is a series of fuzzy memories, just like a lot of the photos.  🙂


I’d love for you to describe your most perfectly imperfect pictures. Go photoxo’s Facebook page and put it in the comments of my perfectly imperfect picture!


(Some of you may remember this from a few years ago when I sent it out to my then small mailing list! This is still one of my favorite posts and I wanted to share it again for all of my new readers! Feel free to share your picture again!)