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.

Efflorescence, Fort Casey, Washington, 1990 by Jay Dusard
from the LensWork Monograph, Abstractions by Jay Dusard

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Original digital capture

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Fellow travelers:

There is nothing new under the sun. Hang around in photography long enough and you will find fellow travelers who parallel your creative path. Learn from them. And don't be surprised if they are historical figures or contemporaries. Certain ideas keep surfacing and eventually you will find someone who accidently copies you or that you accidently copy them.

The image above is from Fort Casey. I photographed this image in 2004 on one of my first trips to Fort Casey with a new digital camera. Imagine my surprise when late last year I started working with Jay Dusard on his LensWork Monograph (Abstractions) and saw his image (at left) as one of the abstracts he wanted to include in his book! I had never seen his image and didn't know he had ever photographed at Fort Casey. Fellow travelers.

I sent Dusard my image and pointed out the coincidence. He told me that he likes mine better. I told him I like his better. Fellow travelers. One of the great things about photography is finding other creative souls you connect with — even if you don't discover it for a decade or so.