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 above photo is pretty awful, but I did like the idea of the long grass, the rock, and the stream.

What I don't like in the picture:

Good idea, bad timing. This was fairly late in the fall and the grass was long past its prime. Nonetheless, I tucked away the idea and hoped I might find another opportunity sometime later, sometime earlier in the year when the grass was still green.

What I learned:

Two years after the above, I stumbled across the stream at left and there were all the green grasses I had hoped for. There was about 10 miles of stream that was lined with this botanical. Who knows — I might even have enough for a small project!