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:

Fun hinges on an old desert barn.

What I don't like in the picture:

This crap is what happens when you try to force your subject into the "rule of thirds." Don't do it. Ever.

What I learned:

I've been known to rail on and on about the evils of "bulls-eye" composition. Centering is a no-no. Except when it is the right choice and is the best composition for the subject. I guess I should be more precise in my language and say that unconscious, knee-jerk, habitual, default, unthinking "bulls-eye" composition is evil. That's a mouthful, so forgive me if I abbreviate it — and then violate my own advice and use it.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I did use this image at left in Kokoro in a project titled The Woodgrain Deep in My Bones.