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:

Of course, you have no idea what is going on here and that is why this is a double failure. This fellow is tossing coins into an incense alter for wishes to come true.

What I don't like in the picture:

Knowing it would be necessary to include the incense alter, I backed up and made the image at left. Unfortunately, that didn't help because you still have no idea what this fellow is doing unless I tell you — in words.

What I learned:

The angle for this shot would have been from behind him with his hand outstretched and a visible coin in mid-air, headed for the alter. Of course, that's the shot I didn't make. Bummer.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Nothing to do here, but learn — and try not to make the same mistake if I'm ever in a similar situation.