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:

Chaos. Ever since I saw the work of Thomas Joshua Cooper, I've tried to tap into my inner chaos.

What I don't like in the picture:

The one above is a mess. There is a difference between chaos and a mess.

What I learned:

The image at left is a much more successful chaos image. Compared to the above, there is more chaos, which is good when you are trying to make a chaos photograph. The white blobs of snow (?) in the above are distracting. The main tree truck in the above is trying to impose compositional order — again, not desirable in a chaos image. So, the one at left is the winner.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

I wonder what Jackson Pollack would say if he were still with us?