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:

Who doesn't have a few dozen sunset pictures?

What I don't like in the picture:

Sunsets are surely beautiful and one of the most photogenic subjects of all time. The problem with most sunset pictures (at least of my sunset pictures) is that they are so, so — ordinary looking.

What I learned:

At some point along the way, I learned that sunset pictures are less about the orange sky and more about the blue landscape that remains when the sun goes down. Another way of saying this is that it's not so much that the sky turns orange as much as it is that the orange sky is the counterpoint to the blue landscape that emerges.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I wonder if I can pull any detail from the dark side of these off shore rocks?