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:

Deep, hidden meaning that explores the inner psychology of the human condition.

What I don't like in the picture:

The pretentiousness that I sometimes wrap myself in when I'm trying to justify making a photograph of something that is essentially insignificant and banal.

What I learned:

There is a fine line between metaphor and bull****. I recently learned a new word for this type of self-delusion.

Apophenia: In psychology, the perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things. An error of perception which manifests the tendency to interpret random patterns as meaningful.

In art, when an artist tries to imply some deep and hidden meaning in something that has neither. See artist statement. (I added that last part.)

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Here is the real problem: I really do like this image, but as much as I'd like to find a use for it, it is a simple picture of a hanger without meaning and I have no idea what to do with it. Hence, the search for some significance where there just isn't any. In truth, I think I do this a lot as some sort of way to elevate my artwork. The quote from The Mask: "Somebody stop me!"