Photography Book Review: Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography

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Making Good Photographs

If you are looking for a book on just composition techniques for a perfect shot, then Learning to See Creatively is not for you. This book is a glimpse into the mind of a photographer and how he visualizes scenes and objects, there is no right or wrong way of getting creative - there are only different ways of being creative with a photograph. Bryan Peterson takes you on a journey of how he creates his shots and what he had in mind when taking that shot. So as I said before, do not go with an expectation to get a tip and tricks list for composition - rather consider it as going on a photo shoot with a Professional photographer and imagine him discussing his approach with you. Bryan Peterson is a professional photographer who has over 30 years of experience behind the lens, his clients include American Express, Kodak, BP, and Philips. He has authored 4 books on photography and is also the Contributing Editor for the Popular Photography magazine.

Content (5 out of 5)

Learning to see

The book is divided into 6 chapters, starting with the Expanding you vision and concludes with Career Considerations. The topics discussed in the book take you through an easy line of understanding the facets of making a photograph.

First chapter, seeing - that’s seeing through a camera. Expanding you vision deals with various lenses and how when and why lens choices should be made and the effects of that choice.

The second chapter deals with the elements of design that can be manipulated and incorporated in your composition for a compelling image. I know most amateurs, and maybe even advanced photographers, don’t pay much attention to the most basic pillars of design on which a great image is made, but the second chapter will definitely change the way you look at a scene via the lens and eyes.

The chapter on composition as expected is full of tips for composing good images, though I would highly recommend reading the first two chapters at least twice before moving over to the composition part. The first two chapters lay the groundwork on which the composition chapter builds upon, hence vision and design should help you make the most use of the following chapters. The magic of light solely discussed what light brings to the equation of a good image, what light to look for and how to make use of light. Though Bryan has been shooting for a while (started with film) and this book (with shots mostly shot with film) has aged gracefully, the inclusion of a chapter on digital photography brings a nice dressing on a solid content. Since it doesn’t matter whether its film or digital the equation for a great image remains the same.

The digital photography chapter takes you through the software that Bryan uses and the adjustments or processing criteria that he employs - not much meat here but wasn’t boring either.

The final chapter is Bryan’s suggestions and ideas for aspiring career photographers, though very limited, he makes clear points to think about.

Presentation & Style (4 out of 5)

The narrative style of the book is easy to understand. Bryan explains his concepts with suitable images that help us get an idea of what wants to convey. Every image included in the book is also provided with shooting information such as lens used, focal length and aperture value. Also included at the end of each chapter is an exercise section that designed to practically understand the essence of the chapter. Unlike most photography books that provide exercises to encourage the reader to photograph, the ones included in this book are mostly for the person take the photograph and learn from the action. This is an interesting method of getting the reader to enjoy the joy of learning and found it very much useful.


Learning to See Creatively is a book that every aspiring photographer should have in his or her library. At times even seasoned professionals can refresh their creative juices by going through this book. The idea of the book is to kindle the photographic senses in you, allowing you to notice scenes and subjects in a way that allows one to make compelling and interesting photographs. Learning to see Creatively will definitely serve your photographic senses for years to come and is available for about $18 from Amazon and you can find it for a cheaper price if you look around the internet.