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:

Japanese gardens are world-reknown for their solitude and contemplative atmosphere. Aren't they?

What I don't like in the picture:

What I actually found were tourists elbow to elbow. Talk about every picture being a compromise!

What I learned:

Make lemonaide. I discovered there were plenty of details I could photograph amidst the chaos that simply eliminated the chaos from the composition. Looking up and looking closely became my strategies for a lot of the work I did in the last trip to Kyoto.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Even the miracle of "content aware fill" can't get you out of trouble in these crowded places. Believe me, I tried.