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:

Sea palms, like Wynn Bullock did (at left).

What I don't like in the picture:

If you ever want to learn why a Master in photography is a Master and you are not, just try to make an image of the same subject they did.

What I learned:

This image at left by Wynn Bullock (Sea Palms, 1968) is one of the photographs that convinced me I wanted to become a photographer. Some 46 years after his great image, using much better equipment and with his success to learn from, I made the one above. That's why he's a Master and I'm (ahem) clearly not.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Maybe I should sell all my yippy-skippy gear and buy something far more primitive so I could photograph like Bullock. Hmmmm. . . . .