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:

First, I saw the tiles. Next, I got very excited about the chimney with the blue smoke. I thought either one would make a nice image.

What I don't like in the picture:

Both of the above, however, are a bit static, a bit predictable. Nice, but certainly not unique.

What I learned:

Keep working the subject. I walked a few more feet and fortunately looked back at the chimney — and saw the composition at left. More interesting view of the roof, still has the tiles of the top one above, and the angle on the blue smoke is more dispersive. Bingo.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I have lots and lots of photographs of roof tiles from both China and Japan. I really need to figure out something to do with them other than the Kokoro sketch I already did titled A Sea of Tiles.