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.

Click on the image to see it larger

Previous image  |  Next image

Original digital capture

Click on the image to see it larger

What I saw that I liked:

Funky rocks and a turbulent sea. What's not to like?

What I don't like in the picture:

The one above is missing the big crashing wave. The one at left is sooooooo much better, don't you agree? You don't? Oh, I guess you are right. Would a bigger crashing wave help? Would a 100-foot crashing wave be better than say, a 90-foot crashing wave? It goes to 11.

What I learned:

Perhaps not a damned thing, if there is any honesty in the number of times I've stood at the oceanside and photographed shot after shot to catch the perfect wave. It never comes across in the photograph. Clearly, I'm missing something — and there, precisely, is where the heart of artmaking lies. What am I missing?

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Time for another trip to the ocean.