I love music. I’ve got a pretty extensive collection, and some of the performances I like best are from live albums. I’m sure that to some extent, this is because I haven’t heard the live versions of songs as many times as the studio cuts, but I think there’s another reason, too — the live performances are more human. I think that in those cases, it’s the imperfections that make the performance really shine — differences in rhythm and tone, a crack in the voice, the personality that makes a live performance authentic.
I think the same can be true of photography. We spend a lot of time trying to make our work perfect, and every once in a while, I think we just might perfect the reality right out of an image. All of the rules of composition, exposure, focus, and color, after all, are really guidelines. Once you’ve learned these rules, try breaking them, and pay attention to when other artists break these rules, too. I think you’ll find that in a lot of cases, really fantastic work clobbers one or more of those fundamental guidelines.
But — and this is a big one — live performances are unforgiving. Performers who don’t have the chops to deliver top performances are going to be exposed when there are no retakes, and if you don’t already have the basics of photography mastered, you probably want to be careful hanging junk on the wall and claiming that it’s a masterpiece.