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:

Troll Doll tufts of hair growing out of the desert rock.

What I don't like in the picture:

The one above was my first attempt, but it fails because it is about individuals. I wanted to say something about community and proliferation.

What I learned:

Is your photograph of a plant, or of an environment? I thought I was interested in these tufts of grass, but the more I looked at it (while I was having a cold drink and a break), I came to realize I was more interested in the overall environment. A quick change of focal length and recomposing to use that wall of rock on the left and I had a much stronger representation of my reaction to this spot.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

This would be a fun one to print on the large-ish size.