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:

Patterns, reflection, lovely mountain lake scene.

What I don't like in the picture:

More often than I care to admit, I look at a photograph I've captured in the field and have no idea what I was trying to do. I think I'm just firing away in the hopes that something good will happen. I end up with pictures like this one that just lay there on the paper (or screen) and say, "Please yawn; I deserve it." And I often do.

What I learned:

I'm convinced that some of these images are a knee-jerk reaction to the unconvincing thought that there ought to be an interesting photograph there. Consider this an alternative form of a cliché. Going through the motions has only one purpose — a sort of warm-up exercise. Other than that, it's a waste of time and film.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Does anything interesting happen if I flip this upside down? Nope. Lipstick on a pig.