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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I guess I was wrong:

For decades, I've insisted that no one cares what camera you use — only the artwork counts. I guess I was wrong. The above was on display at the Met as part of the Irving Penn retrospective.

Turing 180° from the above, I made the snapshot at left. At least she was looking at the artwork.

Another observation from the Penn retrospective:

Curiously enough, everyone I observed viewed Penn's nudes from a distance but got much closer to his other images. As a student of human nature, I'm fascinated with this observation.