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:

Those leaves just stand out so well against the forested background.

What I don't like in the picture:

Too much clutter. Nice idea, but not a very good photograph.

What I learned:

Sometimes I like a post-processing challenge. Why not just push things as hard as I can and see if anything interesting happens? The one at left is better, but not great. I could see using it in a project as a "support image," but it's never going to become a favorite.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I can't remember who said that the photographer's best tool is a 12-gauge shotgun, but I think it was an accurate observation.