Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color and Composition in Photography
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Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color and Composition in Photography

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  680 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Almost everyone can “see” in the conventional sense, but developing photographic vision takes practice. Learning to See Creatively helps photographers visualize their work, and the world, in a whole new light.

Now totally rewritten, revised, and expanded, this best-selling guide takes a radical approach to creativity. It explains how it is not some gift only for the “chosen...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Amphoto Books (first published 1988)
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Kerry
Learning to See Creatively was a bit a disappointment for me. It seems odd to say this since I am still really a beginner in terms of photography but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot there that I didn’t know already. And for the most part, each concept was discussed rather superficially, then followed by a selection of photos that illustrated over and over again the very basic information that the author presented.

For someone completely new to photography and composition, the second and thir...more
Chaitanya Aggarwal
The one and only book that changed my photography. After getting comfortable with your camera with help from Scott Kelbys, this is a must read and not just a read, this one is to be imbibed...like each word.
Brendan
Very simple and full of beautiful examples that help capture the point Bryan is teaching.
Christian
I look forward to finding and reading the latest edition of this book, since it's somewhat promising. Though it isn't stuffed with earth-shattering revelations, it's nonetheless a solid enough set of reminders and bits of inspiration. I know many of these things, but I still need the occasional reminder to lie on my stomach and get a new perspective on a scene.

It's tough for anyone to write a how-to book using their own work as examples--there's an awful lot of self-congratulatory writing.
Christine
This is the first book on photography I've read, and I thought it was a great overview of topics and methods along with some technical suggestions. Peterson has a great voice throughout the entire book and I feel inspired to go shoot. It's a book I'd like to have on my shelf and feel I'd reference when needing inspiration.
Good style exercise: take 75 of your pictures and tally how many are dominated by lines, shapes, firms, textures, patterns, and colors.
Scott
Not quite as good as Understanding Exposure, a criticism that's really praising with faint damnation. Purely technical aspects are much easier to quickly impart, where trying to teach aesthetic sense is probably darn near impossible.

There are certainly ways to learn how to look at the world in a different way by thinking about the lessons here. Definitely something to return to for constant meditation.
Jeannie
This book really helped challenge me to purposefully compose my pictures to convey a meaning to the viewer. In the past, I have simply taken snapshots to remember things, and now I am doing that, plus making a statement. Learning to See Creatively helped jumpstart my ability to look for photos. Consequently, I am less disappointed when knowingly "bad photos" don't turn out.
Bru82
I've to say that the book organisation doesn't make much sense to me, some arguments and reference are quite randomly put into the pages.
There are really good examples that can help somebody with not much photography experience like me, but if you need to go in deep, look elsewhere.
I really liked Understanding Exposure by the same author, this time Peterson's work falls short
Kay
Great primer for aspiring photographers. If you've ever wondered what the "rule of thirds" is (as I did), or needed some guidance in matters of composition, then this is the book I'd recommend first. I liked the fact that the author didn't overwhelm me with discussion of technicalities, but instead focussed on compositional techniques that work with just about any decent camera.
Laura Motush
This book is for younger kids. The photographs are very bright and would be interesting to look at, especially for kids. It also introduces the elements of design as they pertain to photography as well as composition, light, digital photography, and even career considerations in photography. I could see this as an introductory book to photography for the young.
Joshua
Exposure is understandable because it's mostly about physics - light per second through the lens, and the blurring you get with a larger apeture. Though those things have graphic implications, where and how you point the lens is the lion's share of the abstract/design part of photography. This book broke that complexity down in a comprehendable and memorable way.
Carlos Quijano
Nothing groundbreaking or earth-shattering in this book. Just very simple and basic advice on how to compose a photograph. Nonetheless, Peterson does manage to simplify many things, something he is very good at. I would still recommend this book, especially for beginners, just for that reason alone before moving on to more in-depth studies of composition.
Gary
Not very deep, and probably of use if you have no imagination.
Ok, that is probably rather unfair, but if you've already tried to take interesting photographs and are looking for inspiration to change the way you look at the world, most of this will probably have already come to mind.

Ok if you're new to photography.
Darren
An excellent book for the amateur looking to improve.

Unlike Brian's outstanding book on Exposure, this book challenges you to look at scenes in different and more interesting ways.

Once you understand exposure, you still need to see what is worth capturing and this book helps you do that.
Dana
Jun 15, 2008 Dana rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone enthusiastic about photography or art.
I think this is probably one of the most insightful books I've read on the subject of photography. It really challenges your vision and asks you to be thoughtful about how you view things through your lens. It is probably one of the few instructional-type books I read cover to cover.
Stephanie
I'm still a newbie, yet there wasn't much new info here. I preferred the author's "Understanding Exposure" instead. Although, to be perfectly honest, the tone in both books gets a bit grating after awhile (i.e., "I happened to shot this great photo, then I sold it for $40,000!").
Janet
A good book for getting creative juices flowing with DSLR. More useful as an inspiration and less so as a reference, but it contains all of the examples, camera setting information, and business information that I love from Bryan Peterson books.
Sharada Prasad CS
I love this author for his simplicity and great detail he provides about each picture. The book is light and very easy to read and understand. I could not get the new version of the book from the library. But loved every page of this book.
Mary
Excellent read. Discussed several design principles and how they apply to photography. Love his before/after shots and his descriptions of how and why he took each photo. I would recommend this to anyone interested in photography.
Katharine
This was just ok. Standard information about the rule of thirds, filling the frame, etc. It was useful to see the bad and good side by side, but the text was wordy and personal and not as helpful as I would have liked.
Rachel
I loved this book. Lots of brilliant pictures, ideas about different ways to see things, and challenges to try new techniques and thought processes. If I wasn't running out of book shelf space, I'd totally buy it!
George
I worked through this book like a textbook. Yes, it taught me other ways to see design/composition. I read it because it was recommended by a photographer friend of mine who said that it could improve my art. It did.
Jennifer
Great exercises to improve your "eye" for photography. I want to read this one again and take the time to do the exercises. I read a library copy so only had 3 weeks and didn't actually do many of them.
AnnaBnana
This book as tons of super tips and gave me a lot to think about before going on vacation to take photos. I am looking forward to going back through to do the suggested exercises.
AC
good for beginners like me..not great writing skills from the good old photographer..
David Ho
Another great book by Bryan Peterson! Not everyone has the gift of that special eye for details however this book will give you the edge and help you to see more creatively!
Toni
Much of what this book talks about I already practice. Even so, I picked up a few pointers that I was happy to learn. This is a terrific book for the beginner photographer.
Krusher Basta
I found a lot in the book to use and think about when I am trying to make compelling images. Definitely a worthwhile read for any amateur photographer, such as myself.
Nathan
Maybe it's burnout, but I didn't find anything in this book I didn't already know/experience. Could have been summarized in one sentance : "Look at things differently."
Mike
Jul 30, 2008 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: aspiring amateur photographers
I don't think I see very creatively, but I aspire to. Peterson's book has made me a little more observant. I plan to read it again in a couple of months.
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Bryan F. Peterson has been a full-time commercial photographer since 1981, shooting assignments all over the world for many of the Fortune 500 companies, including Kodak, UPS, and American Expiress. He is also a contract stock photographer for Corbis and Getty. He has been a contributing editor at Outdoor Photographer Magazine and is currently a contributing editor at Popular Photography and Imagi...more
More about Bryan Peterson...
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera Understanding Shutter Speed: Creative Action and Low-Light Photography Beyond 1/125 Second Understanding Close-Up Photography: Creative Close Encounters with Or Without a Macro Lens Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera Beyond Portraiture: Creative People Photography

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