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:

Michael Kenna, Michael Kenna, Michael Kenna.

What I don't like in the picture:

I just can't take myself seriously photographing a dock receding out into calm water. Try as I might, I can't get rid of that famous Michael Kenna image in my brain. I don't want to. It's lovely.

What I learned:

So, I just accept it for what it is and find something else to photograph that I can convince myself is my own — even though it probably isn't. Everything has been photographed by somebody, somewhere.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Is there a way to do a dock without it being a Michael Kenna clone? What would that be?