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:

I can almost see a farmer taking a break in this chair next to the grain silo. Nostalgia. I made a second composition (at left) so as to avoid cutting off the shadow of the chair.

What I don't like in the picture:

Funny story. Joe had gotten out of the car to photograph across the way and when he got back into the car he said, "I saw you over there photographing that bird." I replied, "What bird?" I was so focussed on the chair that I never saw the dead pheasant.

What I learned:

Tunnel vision is a very real thing. I knew this, but clearly I don't have a grasp on the solution.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

So do I clone out the bird so I have my chair photograph? Or do I change the title to "Dead Bird and Chair." Or do I just laugh and move on?