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

Click on the image to see it larger and processed

What I saw that I liked:

Some themes seem to repeat. The above is the very first capture from my very first digital camera — Jan 14, 2003 using a Fujifilm FinePix S602.

What I don't like in the picture:

Clearly, I was more interested in playing with my new toy than in composing a photograph. Love the telephone pole behind the tree.

What I learned:

The image at left was photographed just a few days ago — using my 14th digital camera. In 19 years of digital photography, my equipment has changed a lot, but there are creative ruts that are more difficult to observe and avoid. Is the one at left any better than the one at right? I hope so. I think so. The similarities, however, are a bit bothersome.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Stir the pot. Shake it up. Try something new. Even if the results are bad, they might lead me to something different.