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:

There is so much going on in this image that says "dry desert" that I could feel the driness.

What I don't like in the picture:

I tried to say too much in one image and the result is just an assault on my senses. Instead of feeling the dry, all I can feel is my eyes jumping around trying to figure out what to look at.

What I learned:

This is a great example of trying to say too much in one image. Even worse, there is very poor use of geometric composition — e.g., that large expanse of empty in the lower left quadrant. I pointed the camera; I did not compose the image.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

The extreme crop at the left is better, but whenever I have to crop that much to find the picture, I know it was a failure in the field.