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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What I saw that I liked:

Looking down on the plaza from my high-rise hotel in Baotou, China.

What I don't like in the picture:

Photographing through the hotel room window makes for a really ugly result.

What I learned:

This image comes from a trip to China in 2011. It has sat on my hard drive ever since. Just for fun, I thought I'd see what I could salvage with some pretty basic processing. Wow. It's not a great photograph, but what a fascinating demonstration of the power of today's processing. Makes me want to go back and re-examine all the other "losers" I've discounted just to see what I might find lurking in those pixels.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I have lots of other images from high-rise hotel rooms. Do I have a project here?