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:

Fun tree.

What I don't like in the picture:

Boring photograph.

What I learned:

It's not what we find out there that is interesting, but rather what we do with it to make an interesting photograph. The one at left is a "better photograph," but it still isn't the one from that spot that thrills me.

By standing on the rock's right edge, I gained just enough height to make this much more interesting shot of the surf on the black sand. Who needs the tree?

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Isn't it curious how our memory of a place is so influenced by the photographs we made there? I admit I was saddened the last time I drove by to see that the tree is gone. Probably washed away in a storm, I suppose.