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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What I saw that I liked:

A lovely fallen blossom in Hawaii.

What I don't like in the picture:

Not crazy about the fact that it fell on the gravel path. Should I move it? Is that artistically legal?

What I learned:

Years ago, I asked Huntington Witherill about his thoughts on the ethics of moving things. He said, "I always tell people that it's exactly where it was when I photographed it." With this wisdom, I can report that this lovely white blossom is exactly where it was when I photographed it. That's my story and I'm sticking with it with no guilt whatsoever.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

The first rendition of this image, I left the little leaves of the ground cover their natural bright yellow/green. They were just too overwhelming for my eye. The rendition at left is much more to my liking.