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:

Sun and shadow on a tatami mat in a temple in Kyoto.

What I don't like in the picture:

Let's do a quick comparison.

What I learned:

Without putting too much thought or analysis into it, which of these two images is more interesting? Which is more art-like? Let me see if I can make this even simpler: Which causes you to ask a question? Which gets you to pause? Which leads you to want to know more? If I was standing in a gallery that exhibited these two images, which one would you ask about?

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I haven't used either of these in a project and I'm not sure either of them is a strong enough photograph for a project. They do, however, offer an opportunity to think more carefully about what makes a response more likely in our viewers.