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:

Theoretical question: What is this (above) a picture of? Don't look at me, I don't have any idea either.

What I don't like in the picture:

I think I made this shot (above) because I thought it was a compositional sort of thing. It may be, but there doesn't seem to be any identifiable subject — and that's rarely a good thing.

What I learned:

Fortunately, I realized the subject was — duh! — the skunk cabbage blossoms. The one at left I like quite a bit. I think it's a great example of mixing color and monochrome in the same image. Doesn't always work, but in this case, I think it does.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I like this one enough I think I'd like to find some more botanicals and play around with this style some more. It might wear thin quickly, but I won't know for sure until I try to do a dozen of them or so.