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:

Neighborhood Chinese opera performance.

What I don't like in the picture:

It's not that I don't like the above image, but I often find there is "the subject" and then "the other subject." In this case the other subject is the audience who is watching the opera.

What I learned:

In my first visit to China, I was taught that the Chinese people do not consider it impolite to stare, particularly at a stranger. I'm glad I was told this. When I pointed my camera toward the audience to make the picture at left, I was met with several stares that could have made me uncomfortable. Instead, I made the picture, then smiled and said "Ni Hao" (hello) and all their stares turned to smiles and head nods.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I think I should try to recover some shadow details in the image at left. Might be a bit too dark in the shadows.