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:

I'd been planning the fireworks shoot for weeks and found the perfect spot — fireworks over the boat dock.

What I don't like in the picture:

I completely missed the fact that the fireworks would be reflected in the water! Duh. Good thing I chimped and saw (above) a hint of the reflections. Completely changed my approach to night's images.

What I learned:

Best laid plans of mice and photographers. Be flexible. You never know when you might stumble onto something that's better than what you set out to do.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

See that tuft of wafting smoke just to the left of the fireworks? Smoke became a second project that night and I did even more a few years later. The smoke adds another compositional element that I find all kinds of fun.

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