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:

Kyoto in the fall is inundated with tourists who rent these lovely costumes and wander the temples. They are everywhere — and lovely, and photogenic.

What I don't like in the picture:

I have such a prejudice against what I call "butt pictures" and this is one. It almost redeems itself with the details of the costume, but not enough for me to be happy with.

What I learned:

It is incredibly difficult to catch someone in Japan who is not either: on their phone, smiling with the ubiquitous "V" gesture, or in some other way posing.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

The one at bottom left has a mood I like, but the wrong focus point. Damn. I never did get a shot I think I can use. Clearly, this is not a photographic skill I've mastered.