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.

Click on the image to see it larger

Previous image  |  Next image

Original digital capture

Click on the image to see it larger

What I saw that I liked:

A fun roof detail at a temple in Lishui, China.

What I don't like in the picture:

My job as a photographer is to get you to see what I think is the essence of the scene. The above is far too messy and leaves it a mystery about what I want you to see.

What I learned:

Zeroing in on the essential is 90% of my compositional and processing tasks. Is there any doubt what I think is the center of attention in the image at left? All the rest is context.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I might try pushing that white eyeball even whiter.