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:

Sometimes you know there is a picture to be made, but it's just not right. I photographed the above in 2013. The tree, the fence, the clouds — all there, but just not quite right.

What I don't like in the picture:

The above lacks an emotional component that, at the time, I couldn't put my finger on. I just knew it was missing.

What I learned:

Last summer, I had the chance to return to that very spot and found the tree much more cooperative in its decay. Eight years this little tree haunted me before I was able to make the shot I knew was there eight years earlier. It just needed time. I guess another reason to return to places you've already photographed. You never know.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Just FYI, the above was shot with a Panasonic G6 and the one at left with a G9. I can barely see a difference in terms of camera capabilities — I guess thereby proving nothing, but illustrating that it's content, content, content that makes a photograph successful.