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:

Monument Valley. What's not to like?

What I don't like in the picture:

How many times have you seen the above done by thousands (maybe more!) of photographers. Well, here's mine. So what?

What I learned:

Of all the images I made that day (281 to be precise), the one at left speaks most closely to what I was feeling that day. No one will like this photograph. Do I care? Well, praise is always nice, but artmaking is not a popularity contest. It's about personal expression, first and foremost. The one above will make a better postcard. The one at left will be the one I remember from that day in Monument Valley. Calling Dr. Freud, calling Dr. Freud.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Perhaps the next challenge will be to find a group of images that all express this feeling and try to make a small project about that feeling.