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 was working on a short project about this small, country church on the Washington coast. This is where the choir would sit during services.

What I don't like in the picture:

I wanted to be close enough to the chairs, but getting close meant limiting the number of chairs. The one above is okay, but doesn't really have the sense of a defined group. A landscape orientation was better, but still not enough.

What I learned:

So make it a pano! I'm at the same distance, but now this cluster of chairs seems like a group. Another example of letting the subject determine the aspect ratio, not being limited by the camera.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Do I need the windows in the composition?