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 knew precisely what I wanted on this one — the Japanese calligraphy on the board at top, in contrast to the softer shadow of the roof tile line in the white space below.

What I don't like in the picture:

Because I was standing there, I know what this is, but to everyone else, the top halve and the bottom half just don't go together. It looks like two separate photos stuck together.

What I learned:

Well, I didn't really learn this, but the lesson here is that close doesn't count. No cigar. And I'm not sure how I could ever resolve this one.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Unfortunately, even some extreme cropping doesn't fix this one.