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:

Do you ever have a subject you just love but just doesn't work as a photograph? I do, lots of times. I don't know if it's just my inadequacies, or if there just isn't any way to make it an interesting photograph. It's a mystery wrapped in an eggnog.

What I don't like in the picture:

The image at left is a pretty good rendition of what I saw in my mind's eye, so everything went right in terms of composition and exposure. Unfortunately, it just doesn't do anything for me. Something peeked up from my subconscious, but ducked back down and refuses to come out. Patience is a virtue.

What I learned:

Everything can go right and according to plan and it still not work — or maybe its time has not yet come. Or maybe it's just a bad photograph. Indecision is also a part of the creative life.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I won't delete this. It's always possible that it just hasn't found the right project yet. It might be the perfect image that I need someday. Just not yet today.