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:

Carl Chiarenza proposes that "pictures come from pictures." He's right — and that process covers decades, continents, and cultures.

What I don't like in the picture:

The image above from eastern Oregon is okay, but seems rather dull and plain to you, I'd bet. To me, however, there is a connection to the image at left, from Japan.

What I learned:

Pictures do come from pictures, but the connection between them may be perfectly invisible and unknowable to our viewers. Remember that photography is also a kind of personal diary that is meaningful to us, but maybe only to us. I might be able to communicate such connections by doing something like a diptych, but without such effort, the connection is lost.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Should I think about a "pictures come from pictures" project?