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:

I love photographing old places, old towns, old buildings.

What I don't like in the picture:

But fundamentally, I'm not that interested in architecture — and that's pretty much what gets photographed from the outside of a building — walls, doors, windows.

What I learned:

Getting inside is the key. Access is not always possible, but if I can gain permission to enter an old building, the rewards are worth 100 times the effort. My best days out photographing have almost always come because I asked and was allowed to photograph inside.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I think I'm drawn to photograph old places because they evoke stories. Of course all the stories are mere projections and only exist as a fiction in my mind. I should spend more time trying to develop those fictions into photographic presentations. Perhaps in Kokoro I could do it!