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:

Quaint old shoes. What an interesting thing.

What I don't like in the picture:

Never take pictures of things — take pictures of moments, emotions, relationships, realizations . . .

What I learned:

A picture of a thing is a description filled with facts. Photographic artwork — in order to have meaning and connection with the viewer — should never be so dry as a mere collection of facts.

These two pictures were made moments apart, in adjoining rooms. Amazing how different they are. I wonder what happened to me in those few minutes that separate them?

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Here again is a project yet to be finished. I spent the better part of a day photographing inside the Ansorge Hotel in Curlew, Washington. To date, I haven't done a darned thing with these images. Damn.