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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Original digital capture

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What I saw that I liked:

Old country church in North Dakota.

What I don't like in the picture:

The above image is static, lifeless, as empty as the pews themselves. Sure, it shows a point of view, but it doesn't say anything. It's a place, not a story.

What I learned:

Same church, 15 years later. I saw that beam of light on the empty pew and click! This one (left) is not about a place, but about a moment. Life is lived in moments. Life is lived at a place, but it is lived in a moment.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I might try bringing out just a bit more detail from that shadow.