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:

For clearly erroneous reasons, I thought I wanted to photograph a fern with the koi in the background. That doesn't work at all.

What I don't like in the picture:

I often say that photography is about relationships, but I've been known to "try to hard" to force a relationship when one doesn't really exist. That's the case with this ill-conceived attemp above.

What I learned:

Once I had let go of the fern/fish idea, I turned my attention to the fish. The image at left and the one below it are the results. The one below appear in my book, Dreams of Japan.