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:

Burnt stuff always makes for great dark tones in a monochromatic photograph. Love the contrast with the later-arriving tumbleweeds that obviously aren't burnt.

What I don't like in the picture:

Too busy. Cropping helps, but it's still too busy. Worse, this is one of those images that needs to be big — really big. Who wants a big photograph of burnt stuff on their walls?

What I learned:

Curiously enough, this works great as an 8x10 that I can hold right up close and simulate "big" through proximity. You can get a sense of that by looking at the larger image by clicking on the image at left.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

This may have a destiny in either a folio or chapbook. Now all I need is a concept and a bunch of more images to go with it. That's all. These are the kinds of images I tend to think of as "seed images" because they quietly plant a seed of an idea that may or may not come to fuition.