Local photographer Bryan Peterson shares tips, tricks

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Local photographer Bryan Peterson shares tips, tricks

He cites the desert, Dubai skyline and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque as his favourite places to shoot in the UAE.

By David Light (senior Reporter)

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Published: Tue 24 Feb 2015, 9:34 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:26 PM

Bryan Peterson

Bryan Peterson

Given all the awards for cinematography handed out yesterday, one could easily forget that it all began with the humble photograph. With the range of equipment available, it seems there are a lot of amateurs out there, but it takes a lot to make it as a professional photographer. Here we speak to locally-based Bryan Peterson about his life in the industry. 

How did you start in photography?

In the year 1970, at the age of 18, I was doing pen and ink drawings with exacting the detail of natural landscapes; trees and barns, mountains, the beach, waterfalls etc. and selling them at local art fairs.

However, because I was often frustrated by the time involved in making these sketches, my eldest brother Bill, who was a serious amateur photographer, suggested that I borrow his Nikon F camera and shoot pictures of the landscapes that I wanted to sketch and develop these pictures in his own home darkroom, then sketch them. I took his advice and after developing the very first roll, I was completely won over by photography and the immediacy of the image. I haven’t sketched since.

I never went to school to learn photography, but I shot a tonne of film, spent countless hours at the library.

I would write down every aperture, every shutter speed and every lens choice and even the location of every picture I took. Eventually, I went on to write a best selling book, Understanding Exposure, which was based on my own frustration at trying to understand the topic of exposure. Understanding Exposure has sold just over one million copies. 

What drove you to commercial photography in particular? 

In addition to selling stock and teaching workshops between 1979-1983, I had been doing some assignment work for several magazines in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1983 I made a trip to Seattle and shared my portfolio with several graphic design firms and by the end of that memorable week, I had picked up three corporate annual report jobs. I spent the next 10 years shooting for the corporate market, and in 1993, I started shooting advertising campaigns, securing these jobs through ad agencies in the US. 

Do you have any shooting tips that you can give other photography fanatics around the region?

“Move two feet closer!” and perhaps the biggest challenge of all, “Shoot something fresh; either a subject we have NOT seen before or familiar subjects but from a fresh point of view which might include one or all of these: lens choice, lighting, point of view, or weather. 

What are your favourite places to shoot in the UAE and why?

The Red Desert for sports and fashion related projects, the Dubai skyline and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque for architectural shoots as well as other markets, and the souks as well as beaches for people. 

What camera do you currently use and why?

I have been using Nikon since day one, when I shot my first ever roll of film with my brother’s Nikon Photomic F. I later purchased a Nikkormat FTN and over the years have always jumped at the “latest and greatest Nikon!” 

What type of cameras do you recommend for start-up photographers?

I am a huge fan of the D7100! I love everything about this camera! Combine it with the 18mm-300mm ‘street zoom’ and as far as I am concerned, one would be unstoppable!


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