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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With Age Comes Wisdom

If we are lucky, we learn from not just our mistakes, but also from our early attempts. This week I'm comparing early images from a trip to the Sun Yat Sen Chinese garden in Vancouver, BC in 2003 to images shot 14 years later in the Lan Su Chinese garden in Portland, OR.

In 2003, a 6 megapixel Fujifilm s602 camera; in 2017, a 16 megapixel Panasonic G85. Planting seeds always preceeds harvesting fruit.

What I learned:

Every Chinese garden has a water feature. There are two fundament approaches to photographing them; to play with the reflections or to try to penetrate the surface to explore what's under the water. Both methods have potential, but to my eye the water seems more alive when it is more than just a mirror.