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:

No idea, unless it's the massive collection of these little cemetery stones.

What I don't like in the picture:

I distinctly remember at the moment thinking, "That little splash of red at the bottom as got to go." I re-composed slightly and made the much, much better composition at left.

Yeah, right. Way better.

Let's move on, shall we?

What I learned:

Fixing one element in a picture that isn't working doesn't mean that there aren't a hundred other reasons why the image sucks. The trick is to keep whittling away at the problems until what's left is good. Or (as I clearly should have done in this case) just walk away and stop wasting our precious time with unsalvageable crap.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

With images like this, there are no second chances. Or there shouldn't be. They are a punishment and I should just take it like a man.