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:

A mental process I often use in the field is to try to distill my intent for an image into a single word. If the image fails at that, it fails, period. In this image, it was all about the detail.

What I don't like in the picture:

If detail is the main thing I'm trying to get across, wouldn't it make send to be extra sure the detail is in focus? Geez.

What I learned:

Fortunately, I also made the one at left. I remember at the time I thought it might be handy to have a shot that shows a little more of the context of the detail. Fortunately, this one is in focus. Backup shots are always a good idea.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Looking at it now, I might have made the one at left a little contrastier than it needs to be.