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:

Do you remember the above image from a couple of weeks ago? It's the side of a silo with a ladder.

What I learned:

Picture ideas often stick with us, sometimes for decades. That ladder on the silo that I made in 2008 is a theme that I keep coming back to. The one at left was made in 2020. Obviously, silo ladders have haunted me for at least 12 years. I like the one at left better than the one above, but don't think that will stop me from making more photographs of silo ladders. Why? Don't know. I just know I have photographed the definitive one yet. If photographing farm silos and vernacular barns was good enough for Morley Baer and Wright Morris, it's good enough for me!

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I gave up trying to rectify the verticals. That the right side vertical tilt to the left is not a photographic optical property; the entire silo tilted to the left.