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:

My contention is that we never click the shutter unless we think we have a winner.

What I don't like in the picture:

I thought the above was a winner. It isn't. What's wrong with it? The intangible. I'm not sure why, but I know it doesn't work.

What I learned:

The image at left was made about 3-feet from the one above. It is one of my best selling images of all time. Go figure.

So what makes the one at left such a popular image and the one above a loser? The intangible. A great reason to keep shooting.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I've been to this location a couple of dozen times and never been able to match these weather conditions. That said, I have a couple of dozen images from this location that I really like. Sometimes you can go back, but only if you are not looking to repeat an earlier success.