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:


What I don't like in the picture:

The lack of immensity.

What I learned:

I'm not sure if this is universal or just me, but I find one of the most difficult things to get across in a photograph is the immensity of the subject that I feel at the moment of exposure. Intimacy is much easier.

I've tried larger print sizes, but that doesn't seem to solve the problem. I've tried near/far compositions like this one, but that, too, doesn't seem to accomplish what I'd hoped for. It's a mystery to me.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

What if I made a life-size scale model out of dirt and then projected my photograph ont it? Might work, but it'd be difficult for the galleries.