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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This week I'm looking back at my photographs from the Dakota Creek Shipyard in Anacortes.

What I saw that I liked:

They use these giant tarps to cover the ship while they are sandblasting to keep the grit from flying all over the neighborhood.

What I don't like in the picture:

I wasn't crazy about the tarp from underneath it looking up, but . . .

What I learned:

. . . from a distance the tarp was great. This is a perfect example of project cross-pollinating one another. I used the image at left in a project titled, Not For Your Eyes. That project used tarps and curtains from China, Japan, and the shipyard. You never know when an image might fit with something else in completely unexpected ways.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

In fact, quite a number of images from the shipyard have been used in projects that have nothing to do with the shipyard as a subject. Funny how that works.