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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What I saw that I liked:

A subject we photographer can explore every October as Halloween approaches.

What I don't like in the picture:

The above looks like a mask. It's non-threatening plastic and fake hair. Not scary at all.

What I learned:

Find the camera spot where the mask is looking directly at us. Get close. Yikes. Instantly, it's a monster and it's too close for comfort. If you don't feel a touch of fear, it's not a good Halloween photograph.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I wish the eyes were more in focus.