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Your subject may move or the conditions may change enough to only allow for you to capture that initial photo. That’s why it’s important to get it right away. But more likely than not, you will have an opportunity to improve upon your original image. Strive for perfection, in your mind, but accept that no picture is ever “perfect.” You are probably going to throw away a lot of pictures—many more than you are going to keep anyway. That’s OK. You will improve that ratio over time. The more pictures you take, the better you will get.

The idea that there is no morality in art, only beauty (or an absence of beauty, in the case of bad art), is the central tenet of a movement known as aestheticism, which sought to free literature and other forms of artistic expression from the burden of being ethical or instructive. Wilde himself was associated closely with this creed, as the Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray makes clear. But the novel that follows grapples with the philosophy of art for art’s sake in a complicated way. After all, the protagonist suffers from the lessons he has learned from the yellow book that has “poisoned” him. Lord Henry insists that a book can do no such thing, and we are left to decide how much blame one can place on a book and how much blame must be placed on the reader. Indeed, in one respect, The Picture of Dorian Gray seems to be a novel of extremely moral sensibilities, since Dorian suffers because he allows himself to be poisoned by a book. In other words, he defies the artistic principles that structure the yellow book. One must wonder, then, if there is such a thing as a book without some sort of moral or instruction.

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