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:

Steam on a fall day in China.

What I don't like in the picture:

Unfortunately, I was zero for two with this subject this day. In the one above, the guy moved out of the frame just as I was releasing the shutter and then he never returned. In the one at left, I have the man in the shot, but he's too far away and there is so much less steam that the composition suffers. Close, but no cigar.

What I learned:

There no doubt in my mind that a percentage of success in photography is totally dependent on luck. We can work hard to reduce that percentage, but in the end, we cannot completely eliminate the serendipitous from the process.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

What if I crop the one at left into a square?