Brooks Jensen Arts

Every Picture Is a Compromise

Lessons from the Also-rans

Most photography websites show the photographer's very best work. Wonderful. But that's not the full story of a creative life. If we want to learn, we'd better pay attention to the images that aren't "greatest hits" and see what lessons they have to offer. Every picture is a compromise — the sum of its parts, optical, technical, visual, emotional, and even cosmic – well, maybe not cosmic, but sometimes spiritual. Success on all fronts is rare. It's ok to learn from those that are not our best.

This is a series about my also-rans, some of which I've been able to improve at bit (i.e., "best effort"), none of which I would consider my best. With each there are lessons worth sharing, so I will.

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What I saw that I liked:

Shiprock! Classic! Iconic! Yes!

What I don't like in the picture:

Timing is everything. Don't tell me that luck is not a component in landscape photography. A dusty, windy day is not our friend, at least not if we want to make classic images.

What I learned:

Sometimes, the best idea is the throw in the towel, just make a selfie and move on. Later this day, I made some really great images, but not of Shiprock, which was by then about 200 miles in my rearview mirror.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I'd love to visit Shiprock and try again. But then I have to ask myself: Does the world need another photograph of Shiprock? And then I go somewhere else. Then again, you never know . . .