This is the beginning of an interesting book by Clément Chéroux, Fautographie : petite histoire de l'erreur photographique (I don't know if the book was translated in english, I couldn't find it on the net, but the title should sound like Failography: a brief history of the photographic error).
Amongst the biggest 'mistakers' of photography, the book mentions and comments the works of many famous photographers: Man Ray, Lisette Model, Lee Friedlander, Ugo Mulas, Andreé Kertész, Lartigue.
Many are the anecdotes and the interesting discoveries, for example the story of a big national contest in France, in 1991, entitled 'Fautographie' (fail photography), a contest that had a big success, with thousands of entries and famous editors and critics working on decoding the case of the photographic error.
According to Chéroux what is commonly considered a 'photographic error' - the transgression of the dogma of photography, of the aesthetic codes prevailing in a certain historical moment - actually is the lifeblood of the photography evolution. A technical malfunction, accidents, a wrong angle, framing or focus, a wrong shutter speed or exposure, a distorted or unusual use of shadows, reflections or blur, can become the mould for invention and innovation, the discovery of new expressive potentialities of the medium, avant-garde of art, new directions and evolution. The photography errors are unexpected variations of the photographic parameters.
To Moholy-Nagy the error is an endless way to explore the medium and discover new and different ways to represent the world, to Man Ray, it is a way to lose yourself to chance, and let new visual forms and new subject come to life.
There even are photography books collecting rejected and not paid film rolls, photos that photo labs considered irreparably wrong. Nino Migliori collected them in his 'La ruota delle fotografie orfane' (the wheel of the orphaned photographs). They can indeed appear disappointing to the client of the photo lab, blurred images, crowded compositions, under or over exposures, cut heads, red eyes, clumsy frames etc.) and it is understandable that nobody wanted to take them and pay for them.
To Nino Migliori these same images instead are images on which the watcher can project stories, meanings, sense.
Jaques-Henri-Lartigue, Une-Th.-Schneider-au-Grand-Prix-de-l'Automobile-Club-de-France, - 1913.
The Th. Schneider n.6 by Maurice Croquet at full speed, photographed by Jaques-Henri Lartigue was once judged a failure: an amputee, deformed, distorted car. This same image became a symbol of dynamism and speed for the Futurist movement.
In the early 1900s reflections were considered annoying inconveniences, but they soon became ways to dishevel the normal perceptions.
Lisette Model, Premier reflect, New York ,1939-40
Lee Friedlander was one of the first photographers who added with constance and intention his own self-portraits in his images, through his shadow or reflection.
This instead was a fashion service by Tim Walker titled 'Amateur Photographer in London', a collection of strange photographs and an ironic list of advices such as 'consider composition' and 'beware of cars passing subject'.
Tim Walker, double page on Vogue, Italy, 1991
The cover of 'End of an Age' by Paul Graham features the dreaded 'red eye' that our digital cameras desperately try to avoid with their red-eye reduction features.
A blurred, out of focus, weirdly cropped image can offer freedom of interpretation to the viewer, it becomes sometimes a sort of Rorschach test, ambiguous designs that become projective tests. The more a photograph is vague and open to interpretation, the more it suggests a personal, intimate interpretation, the more it requires the viewer's imagination.
"There are no wrong photos"
Resources for photos and text:
A little selection of experimental street photos from dA:
P.S. Don't forget to enter the monthly challenge at ! The theme is 'camouflage', a difficult one this time. Old and new photos are allowed, as many as you want. Just add them to the favorite collection of the group. Have fun!