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:

Deep in China, a scene of bamboo harvesters.

What I don't like in the picture:

The above is a scene, but it's just a scene. Photography happens inside a scene.

What I learned:

For me, it's always the details that tell the story. Images like the one at left, for example. The clothes, the hands, the cigarrette, his face — those are the details that are needed to give a a glimpse into his life. A scene is not a story, but it's where the story can be found in the details.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Not sure I have the color balance right in this one. More careful processing is needed before I would use this in a finished project.