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:

Nice backstage moment with these two actors from the Chinese opera.

What I don't like in the picture:

Distractions in the background.

What I learned:

I spent an hour or so fussing and fussing with the background in this image to get rid of the post and the other actor in the space between the ones I was photographing. Fuss, fuss, fuss. I was feeling pretty good about it when I arrived at the image at left when I suddenly became aware of the guys head on the very right edge of the photo. Never even saw him. I was so concentrated on the background that I completely missed the distraction in the foreground.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I think I can still salvage this one, but it's going to take even more fussing to get rid of that guy on the right. Crap. Maybe I'll get lucky and content-aware fill with work.