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 two shots are from a salt flat in Amargosa Valley, Nevada.

What I don't like in the picture:

I never imagined that these salt flats would look like snow fields once I saw them as a photograph.

What I learned:

I made about 20 compositions that day. All of them fail because they look like snow or ice — except the one at left. It's just a bit less like snow or ice, but it still doesn't look like a salt flat. At this point, I'm thoroughly at a loss how to make salt flats look like salt flats.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Give up on the salt flat idea and title them, Snow #1, Snow #2, etc. and then keep quiet about what it really is.