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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Original digital capture

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What I saw that I liked:

I must like ropes and cords and things (see Oct 9th). No idea why, but I sure do photograph them a lot. I don't even like horror movies, so this is a mystery to me.

What I don't like in the picture:

Why did I think this was a horizontal image?

What I learned:

When I have to crop this much, something went horribly wrong.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

What's worse is that this isn't interesting and I have no idea how to make it better. Keep photographing these things whenever I find them? Or does that just repeat the same mistake over and over?

I did one in China that I like a lot better and have used in an issue of Kokoro. Maybe that's the lesson here: Never give up. If it speaks to you, keep working on it until you figure it out.

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