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:

Quaint couple deep in rural China. I was a passenger in the car that was briefly stopped at a stop sign. I saw, I snapped, I missed it.

What I don't like in the picture:

The one above is the best of the three photographs I made in a total of 20 seconds. I suppose that I got three focused and properly exposed images out the window of the car in 20 seconds is a sort of victory. But not much of one.

What I learned:

Fortunately, this was very early in my trip. The lesson I learned was to always travel with my camera set to burst mode. At least that way during these fleeting moments I might get lucky and stumble across a scene that I can spray and pray. I immediately set one of my custom buttons to burst mode and it saved my bacon several times during the trip.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I wonder what she was looking at? I wonder what they were looking at?