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:

You can't really see it in the photographs this small, but the ground is covered with exploded firecrackers.

What I don't like in the picture:

Neither of these is particularly successful, but they illustrate a point . . .

What I learned:

I call this the 180° rule. When you are done making your exposure, turn around 180° to see what is behind you. It's amazing how many times you will find an interesting image. I shot the one above first, then turned around and found the one at left — which I like better. The firecrackers are more visible and the buildings are more than just a wall. I also like the red sign on the doorway which is barely visible in the version above.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I wish I had photographed a close-up of the debris on the ground. Maybe next time.