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.

Click on the image to see it larger

Previous image  |  Next image

Original digital capture

Click on the image to see it larger

What I saw that I liked:

There is a broom down there that might — might — be interesting.

What I don't like in the picture:

I confess that on occasion I am embarrassingly lazy. For reasons long forgotten, I started this session in this old prairie school with my 7-14mm ultra-wide mounted on my camera. I made 78 images that day, and 68 of them were with the ultra-wide. Why? Did the subject demand ultra-wide? Was this the strongest way of seeing? Or, was I just too lazy to swap lenses? If you guess the latter, you win.

What I learned:

When you feel like taking a nap, take a nap. If you need a snack or a break, eat a snack, take a break. To photograph our best, we need to be at our best. I clearly wasn't that day.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

That said, I looked at the original capture and challenged myself to make something out of it. The image at left is the best I could come up with. Yup, shoulda taken a nap.