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:

A fun image, but out of context how can you tell what it is? Sort of reminds me of flags on the moon, but I don't recall hearing that the Chinese have landed on the moon. Huh?

What I don't like in the picture:

Without context, a picture is often easily misinterpreted. This can be good, if that is your intent. Otherwise, it's just confusing.

What I learned:

This was photographed in the Gobi Desert in China on a mid-winter sunny day. The one a left was a few minutes later and also lacks any sense of context — on size. This yurt structure is large enough that it contains a full-size soccer field inside it.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Since both of these fail the context discussion, I wonder how I could use that creatively in a project? Why fight it when I might be able to go with it and have some fun!