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:

I have 30 or 40 pictures of slat fences. Clearly I must connect with them somehow, even if I don't currently understand why.

What I don't like in the picture:

The one above is from 2013 and is awful, out of focus, poorly composed. But — and for reasons beyond comprehension — it haunts me.

What I learned:

So this week I found another slat fence. Better, but I know this is a subject I just need to keep exploring. By that I don't mean only making more pictures of slat fences, althought that couldn't hurt. By "keep exploring" I mean trying to figure out why I'm so drawn to this subject. Without some sense of understanding, how can I know how best to photograph it? Blind pigs and truffles aside.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

What is the metaphor I am missing in these fences?