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:

Obviously, I love photographing old radiators.

The Eternal Debate:

The ever-present debate whenever I'm photographing something is whether to photograph the overall thing, or to get close and photograph the details. I'm pulled in both directions.

The overall thing shows context, and often — as in the above — does a better job of showing the light. I just love the glow in this images.

The detail, on the other hand, pulls us into an intimacy with the object that intentifies our concentation and connection with the object.

No right answer other than — photograph both! Horses for courses. I've used both of these images, but not in the same project. And that's one of the advantages of thinking and working in projects. There is no right way to photograph something, but there are right ways to photograph something for its use in a specific project.

Neither of these are "great photographs," but they are both just right for use in their respective projects.