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:

Drying seeds in a Chinese market.

What I don't like in the picture:

I was in the market to photograph the market. Including these two people in the shot seemed, well, market-like. But it's not a very interesting photograph, I think you'll agree. I needed to get closer to see the seeds in their hands. Something like this might have been better.

What I learned:

The image I really like from this moment is the abstract at left. This is one of the reasons I love doing abstracts — you can do them anywhere, any time. Instead of a story-image, abstracts are a sort of visual puzzle. Completely different mindset in making the photograph, and completely out of place and time.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Shouldl I leave that top section of the abstract in? Does it add something important, or just distract?