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 a lovely "intimate nature" snow scene. Reminds me of the one I shot in China (at left).

What I don't like in the picture:

The only problem is that the one above was shot in Death Valley and it's not snow — it's salt.

What I learned:

Some things just look like other things. I have no doubt that 99 out 100 people would interpret the above as snow. Snow is common, salt beds are not. So how does one do a project of salt beds and not have it interpreted as snow? I have no idea — thoroughly stumped.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Maybe I should just pretend it's snow and not tell anyone? Shhhh — it's a secret between you and me.