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:

Pollen floating on a pond. An abstract!

What I don't like in the picture:

In the one above, all the reflections of the sky just ruin the composition with distractions. This was photographed in 2014 and immediately recognized as a loser. The idea, however, stuck with me. In our failures lie the seeds of opportunites to learn.

What I learned:

I found pollen covering this puddle in the parking lot last week that resulted in the image at left. Under a gray sky and by choosing an angle that didn't reflect any trees, this composition works. It's slightly vertigo-inducing — which I love in this image. Only took 8 years for this photograph to emerge.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I need to find more of these pollen-covered puddles. Could be a fun project.