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:

My friend Huntington Witherill had told me exactly where to go to find these fantastic mud cracks. Very cool.

What I don't like in the picture:

My photograph of the mud cracks looks like an incompetent copy of his great artwork.

What I learned:

You can't make some else's artwork. You can try, but it will likely end up being a bad copy — or worse. Do your own work. It's the only work really worth doing.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I think I want to try this image (left) on a really textured paper, or perhaps canvas. Might not work, but I'd sure like to try it.