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:

Monks at a temple in China

What I don't like in the picture:

The image above was photographed in 2011. The one at left was photographed in 2019.

What I learned:

One of the images I wish I had from 2011 was a close up of the monk's hand. The moment happened so fast I was lucky just to get this one image that was in focus. When I had another opportunity at a different temple in 2019, I motioned that I wanted a photograph of his hands and he held still for me so I could capture the image at left.

The point I want to emphasize is that I learned from the 2011 experience and knew what I wanted in 2019. Learn from the past. Or repeat the same mistakes, I guess.