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:

At "The Grotto" in Portland, Oregon. Lots of shiny metallic sculptures and brass icons.

What I don't like in the picture:

It's always a dicey proposition to try to make art from some artist's artwork. Far too often — like here — the photograph ends up being a mere visual copy of the original.

What I learned:

I think we can use art to make art, but it's necessary to remove the original from the photograph. The image at left is an example. Yes, it's a photograph of some other artist's statue, but it's not just showing you the statue. That is, I'm trying to make my own artistic statement that may not be in the intent of the original artist at all.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Now that I look at this image again, I think next time I'll try to tone down that white triangle in the upper left quadrant. Just a bit too distracting.