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:

After a three hour drive, I liked getting out of the car and stretching my legs. The photo opportunity was just an excuse.

What I don't like in the picture:

There was an unusual plant that I'd never seen before. Unfortunately, that plant was a tiny, tiny — really tiny — part of the picture. Where's Waldo?

What I learned:

We've all had that experience of photographing a majestic mountain only to realize on seeing the print that the camera rendered that gigantic mountain as the size of pea. I guess after 50 years of photography I'm still learning this simple lesson. Our mind has a built-in 1000x zoom that the camera doesn't have.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

This was photographed in deep, rural China. Sometimes there just isn't the possibility of going back. The good news about this photo is that I did stretch my legs and that was worth the stop.