It's Week #25: Wabi Sabi

red-bird-blank-sign see the album


Photo by: Yosef Adest – Week 51: 2 Challenges Combined (2015)

Wabi Sabi – is a Japanese worldview centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection (Wikipedia). Well, what does that mean you ask?? Let’s break it down:

Wabi refers to simplicity, loneliness. Imperfection or asymmetry. It can be anything – made by nature or by man – that has some type of flaw or irregularity. The presence of this “flaw” gives a unique beauty to the subject, like an asymmetrical shape on a ceramic object that can never be exactly replicated, or the unique grain patterns that are present in different wood types.

Sabi refers to the beautiful imperfection that comes with the passage of time. It states that the use of an object, and the changes that occur from that use, make the object more valuable and beautiful. This word mostly refers to rust, but can be attributed to the decayed characteristics of wood, or the discoloration of pottery from contact with hot water, over time. Sabi gives us an appreciation of the value of age and experience.

Your challenge this week is to show us the beauty in imperfection, the grace of aging, the value of experience.

Don’t overthink it ! We all have quirks in our home that make it feel more personal to us – uneven floorboards, a rickety doorknob – that are imperfect, but make the home feel even more perfect nonetheless. There are objects we’ve worn with so much love they become more beautiful as they fray. These are scars and dents and scratches and tears that prove that with experience comes beauty. Go out and capture that beauty.

 Tips and Tuts for this week:

  • Take this week as an opportunity to work on your shallow depth of field – capturing a small detail in focus while blurring out the rest of the scene. Here is a great primer on achieving shallow DoF. You may also want to revisit Macro Week to hone in on small, small details (and qualify your photo for the extra credit!).
  • Show us detail. This is a good subject to amp up that contrast/clarity slider and maybe throw your photos into black-and-white so we can all gush over the wonderfully imperfect details.
  • Having trouble finding a subject? Walk around your home, your building, your block, and your neighborhood. What are the irregularities you know so well you’ve stopped noticing them? This is a great week to open your eyes even wider and again appreciate the imperfections that make our lives our own.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our “Wabi Sabi” albums from 2015 and 2016! And of course, The Googles! Oh you sweet Googles. 

wabisabiEC wabisabitips1

Extra Credit: Macro!

For some extra credit joojoo, capture that detail that signifies wabi sabi in its tiniest form. For this project we will determine the term macro to mean something captured with a macro lens; to put simply, a subject that’s really, really small (and not necessarily exactly along a 1:1 ratio, which is the technical definition of macro photography)

Check out The Googles for more inspiration!




Remember, it is not necessary to keep this Extra Credit challenge in mind while shooting. It’s extra credit!
*Please note!! You can only submit ONE photo per week, for the week’s challenge. This photo can include the “Extra Credit” part of the challenge, or the “regular” challenge, but you can never submit more than one photo!

Upcoming Challenges

Past Challenges 2016

Past Challenges - 2015