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:

Beautiful light in a Japanese ryokan (hotel).

What I don't like in the picture:

I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out how I concluded that this photograph would be better if I included the modern kerosene heater.

What I learned:

Take a moment. Think. Don't just point and shoot. Examine all areas inside the frame on the viewfinder and think again. Or get good at cropping out the crap you should have dealt with when it was easier to eliminate the unnecessary.