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:

Do you ever have a subject that appeals to you but you just can't figure out how to photograph it? These large urns of incense alms are like that for me.

What I don't like in the picture:

I can't decide if I don't like the color, don't like the ashes, don't like the sticks, or just don't like it all.

What I learned:

The one at left was just after the priest removed all the red sticks. Better, but now it's just an abstract.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I suppose I could experiment some morning after my campfire has gone out and see if there is a way to photograph ashes that is interesting.