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:

The deep forests of the Pacific Northwest are simply magical.

What I don't like in the picture:

You'd think because I've lived here so long that I'd know how to photograph them with ease. Nothing could be further from the truth. I find deep forest photography to be one of the most difficult genres I attempt.

What I learned:

I keep thinking the key to success is to somehow organize the chaos. That's not as easy as it sounds. The one above tries to organize the scene by zeroing in on a large subject. But it doesn't work!

The one at left uses a large subject, but has a more organized line and form type of composition. Still not fantastic, but closer to success than the above.