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:

Patterns and shapes. I did not see color.

What I don't like in the picture:

The above image from Death Valley is an accurate rendition of what I saw. Not very interesting, agreed?

What I learned:

From that bland image above, I was able to make the image at left. Is it a "Here's what I saw" landscape in the classic tradition? Obviously not. It does, however, delight my eye for what it is as artwork. This is where art and photography can drift apart. The above is undeniably photography, but not art. The rendition at left is art, but not really photography — as I think of it, anyway.

One thing worth considering is that when I show the one at left, it will be judged on its own merits. Is it interesting or not? The question about whether it is real or not will not come up.