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:

In an open market in China. Whatever these folks were doing, it was intense.

What I don't like in the picture:

In the above, too much activity and a distracting background. This might be an effective "establishing shot," but it would require explanation — at least outside of China, it would.

What I learned:

These are some kind of walnut and the people are looking for just the right pattern in the shell casing. It's a good fortune thing, I guess. Not sure what they are seeking, but it is a search.

I love the red, raw palm in his left hand from handling the raw walnuts.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

This really needs to be a short project — may a six-image kind of thing. At least enough to tell the story. Of course, I'd first need to learn what they are looking for!