This is a bad photograph.
It's poorly composed. It's hard to tell what's going on.
I shot it through a dirty window.
But I love it. And here's why:
A photograph's artistic merit is not the same as its value. The sweet spot is when you make those two things come together in a single photograph.
But that doesn't always happen. It didn't happen for this photograph of my mom playing with her grandkids in the driveway in the afternoon. But here's the thing: I don't care that the composition is boring, that it's taken from far away, and that no one else may find it meaningful.
I will treasure this photograph because I want to remember (and I want my children to remember) that their grandma was the kind of person who would duel with them in the driveway. Even if it's not top-notch, this photograph helps me to remember how precious my family is.
Images that are both well-composed AND meaningful are a tricky thing to find. Sometimes I shoot something and the structure of the image is great, but a person's expression isn't quite right. Sometimes I shoot and the images aren't award-winning compositions, but the moment or person in the photograph is so meaningful, it trumps everything else.
While I keep picking up my camera, forever on the hunt for the well-composed, meaningful image, this remains true: bad photographs can still make great memories.