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:

These cranes in the shipyard are huge.

What I don't like in the picture:

I thought I'd try to show how tall they are by excluding everything on the ground and have the crane reach into the sky. There are lots of times the idea in a photograph is "compare this to that." In this case, since I eliminated everything it could be compared to, the crane doesn't look as tall as it actually is. The graphic is good, so I like the image, but not for the reasons I set out to accomplish.

What I learned:

Comparison photographs need to always include the "compared to what" element. In comparison to the ship, the crane now looks so much taller than the one in the first attempt above.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Not sure I need that second crane to the right.