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Bryan Peterson is a professional photographer, internationally known instructor, and founder of www.PPSOP.com, The Perfect PIcture School of Photography. He is also the best-selling author of Understanding Exposure, Learning to See Creatively,Understanding Shutter Speed, Understanding Close-Up Photography, Understanding Digital Photography, Beyond Portraiture, and, most recently, Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide. His easy-to-understand writing and teaching style breaks down the complex and often confusing aspects of photography, translating them into what his students routinely describe as "aha" moments. In addition, he has been a commercial photographer for over 30 years, shooting annual reports for many Fortune 500 companies, and his trademark use of color and strong, graphic composition have garnered him many photographic awards, including the New York Art Director's Gold Award and honors from Communication Arts and Print magazine. He currently splits his time between Chicago and France.
Learning to be a photographer is about more than focusing and exposure. One of the most important and difficult things is learning what to take a picture of, and then designing an image that expresses something about its subject. Many authors of photography books talk about teaching the photographer to see. I think of that as being the process of selecting a subject and then deciding how it should look to capture the photographer's vision of it. Bryan Patterson promises to teach that in the revised edition of "Learning to See Creatively". Unfortunately, he doesn't keep his promise.
It's not that this is a poor book. The author talks about the elements of photographic design like line, shape, form, texture, pattern and color. Unfortunately he doesn't link these elements to the photographer's vision. It's as if one knew nothing about tools, had a plumbing problem, and was presented with a wrench. It would be nice to be told how to use the wrench to solve the problem. If you know how to relate the tools to the problem, you don't need this book.
He also talks about composition and guidelines like the rule of thirds, or frame within a frame. But even here, he doesn't make the connection to vision. Even the chapter called "Expanding Your Vision" turns out to be a discussion of the characteristics of lenses of different focal lengths.
There are chapters on digital photography and photographic careers but they look like they were added on to the work because somebody thought that was what would help the book sell.
Peterson's photographs are good. When he explains why he made the design and composition choices for a particular picture you can see some relationship of technique to vision.Read more ›
I've read all three of Bryan Peterson's books -- "Understanding Exposure," "Learning to See Creatively," and "Photographing People -- and "Understanding Exposure" I recommend highly (5 stars). The other two drained me of my passion as I read them, which is the opposite of what Peterson intended, I'm sure. Here's why: Bryan Peterson's images look like what they are -- commercial images sold to stock houses, used to advertise products or services or businesses in one way or another. Little girls in fields of flowers. Sunsets over the beach. Two businesspeople shaking hands. Peterson does what he does well, and I gave this book 2 stars because I'm sure there are readers who are looking to take their interest in photography down this very road. For anyone who wants to develop his or her "voice," who wants to communicate with his or her images, I think this book will disappoint. I was a student in a writing program for a period of time, and one of the best tips I learned and passed on to other students was this: Before you sign up for a class with a particular professor, read at least one of his novels or several of his short stories. If you like the way he writes, sign up for the class. If you can't stand his writing, find someone else. I think the same applies here. I recognize that Peterson knows how to use a camera -- and his effective instruction of exposure in his other book proves that -- but his images make no impression on me, don't cause me to think or feel or question anything. I recommend finding the books in a bookstore or trying to look through them online before you buy -- his Web site, [...] shows some examples. If you want to take pictures like these, this book will meet your needs. Otherwise, pass it by.
a cousin recommended this book to me a long time ago so i went and bought it. hands down, this book helped me improve my shooting DRASTICALLY. it teaches you to answer the questions "what is it about this scene that i want to express?" and "how can i convey that feeling/idea in a photo?". these may sound like simple questions but you really have to step away from the normal way of seeing things in order to take great photos.
the principles in this book apply not only to photography, but to any art form where an understanding of visual principles applies: graphic design, painting, drawing, etc. this book is a great primer on visual literacy.
peterson helps you to compose a photo based on its intended effect by providing a pair of photos for each idea that he is trying to explain: one of the photos is taken without giving much thought (a snapshot, if you will) and the other is taken after peterson addressed the questions above (what do i want to express? how can i translate that to a photo?). he uses the "pair method" to illustrate topics like form, shape, color, perspective, and a variety of others.
i just couldn't put this book down. and i'm not kidding when i say it improved my photography drastically. do yourself a favor and buy this book.
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After reading Bryan's book Exposure, I couldn't wait to read this one and he didn't disappoint. This is an excellent book for beginners (and a refresher for more advanced).
I really like the presentation of the "average" picture along side his view of how the picture should have been shot. His clear text with specific insights was excellent. The exercises were useful in conveying his points.
For the beginner, I would purchase Exposure along with this book. For the intermediate, I believe it is still worth the price. Of all the photographic books I have read (most written for a more seasoned photographer), his simple approach was refreshing and helpful. I believe that my recent work has improved due to his suggestions. Thanks Bryan...keep writing!
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