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:

Leading lines through a Japanese cemetary.

What I don't like in the picture:

Quote: "It's far better to say one thing well, than to try to say too much and fail." I think I need to tattoo this on my hands. Fortunately, while making the image above, the little voice in my head kept whispering, "Get closer, get closer." This time, I paid attention and the image at left is sooooooo much better.

What I learned:

Each one of us is unique, so what works for (or plagues) me might not pertain to you. That said, I find I rarely make a better photograph by backing away from the subject, and I almost always improve my image by getting closer.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I haven't tried this as a b/w image, but I think I'll experiment with that next.