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:

I was tired, so I sat down on a bench for a rest. Looking in front of me, I realized people were streaming past me on this sidewalk and that I might be able to just sit there and capture an interesting "street photography" moment.

What I don't like in the picture:

Thank God I wasn't using expensive film for this disastrous experiment. The two at left are the "best" of the 35 images I snapped. Yikes.

What I learned:

I am not Garry Winogrand. I'm ok with that.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Would I have made something more interesting if I'd stayed there and made 1000 images? 10,000 images? As far as I can understand it, that was the Winogrand method. Maybe I just gave up too soon. We'll never know.