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:

I always find these kinds of image a problem. I like it, but perhaps that's because I know it is a winter corn field in rural China.

What I don't like in the picture:

The above image places the cornfield in context, but dilutes the effect of the repeating pattern.

What I learned:

The image at left, all by itself, is probably undecipherable to most viewers. Is it therefore a loser? I don't think so, but it does require a bit of explanation via caption, or even better as part of a multi-image project. It certainly doesn't do well on its own. Curiously, I find I have lots and lots of these kinds of images. Perhaps that's one reason why I'm so drawn to the multi-image project.

2nd Chances: What I might try next