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:

There is a stark freneticness of this burnt forest that keeps drawing me back to it.

What I don't like in the picture:

Whatever I'm feeling when I'm there just doesn't come through in the photographs. I think it's because there is too much — too much detail, too much chaos, too much freneticness.

What I learned:

I've been back to this location now five times to try to get this shot. The lesson is that it sometimes requires more than five attempts before you get it right.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Should I try photographing this in the fog?