Looking for something specific!

One of the things we do in our Art of Seeing class is how begin seeing things by looking for something specific.  We start with line, pattern, color and texture and our students are always amazed by how much they SEE after these lessons.  It’s a great exercise to give yourself if you are walking out the door to go shooting.  When people have a couple hours to go out and shoot in the weekend they often find themselves coming home with mediocre images.  The reason is that the world is overwhelming and when you look at everything, you often see nothing.  On a recent workshop I sent my students out on what I call a speed round.  We were in downtown Seattle and I set a goal of line, pattern or something like that and everyone went out  and met back at the same place 20 minutes later to compare results.  Once we had done a few of those, I sent us all out to capture Reflections.  Reflections in the city can be a LOT of fun to play with.  A puddle on the ground….


Can be far more exciting when you get down on the ground.


Cities are filled with building fronts made of glass and getting right up against that glass can also turn out some really dramatic and surprising results.


I captured a few as I walked around with those 20 minutes clicking away in my mind.


Then I ended up down by Seattle’s famous Public Market and found JUST what I was looking for…


The interesting thing was, our group had spend a significant amount of time at this intersection earlier in the morning, but we didn’t happen to be looking for reflections.  It was a wonderful surprise and possible only because I was specifically looking for something.  So, grab your camera, head out the door with a time limit and something to look for.  Check out the Art of Seeing class and have some fun seeing your world through a whole new set of eyes!
By Chris Hurtt

Beraking The Rules

Never place your subject in the center of the frame; it will create a static feeling. Never place your horizon line in the middle of the frame; it will create a feeling of indecision and negative tension. And, whatever you do, don’t forget to always fill your frame—move closer or change to a longer focal length.

Don’t you just love rules? As my parents will attest, I have always loved rules. Not so that I could follow them, but rather so that I knew where the boundaries were. That way, I could clearly see that I had crossed a boundary and could take delight in knowing that I was clearly breaking a rule. Fortunately, my rebellious phase didn’t last too long. Had it gone on much longer, I very well might not be writing photography books but instead standing in front of a judge.



There are always exceptions to rules. You don’t always have to follow the rules. They are just suggestions. Sometimes, a subject looks best centered in the frame. Sometimes, a horizon line that divides a picture directly in half works. There is a certain importance in not always relying on rules, otherwise you might not develop confidence in your vision when it differs from that of others. Take a look at these three images and realize how all three are far being frame filling ‘portraits’, yet when it comes right down to it the ‘portrait’ despite its incredibly diminshed size is truly the star!

How can such a tiny subject grab your attention when it doesn’t even come close to filling the frame? The answer lies in a basic law of visual perception: The smaller a subject is in relation to its surroundings, the more unusual it appears; and, the more unusual it appears, the more it stands out. This is similar to disrupting a pattern (see the lower image on page 71): Whatever interrupts the pattern then becomes the focus of attention.

On closer inspection, this image is, in fact, filled to the edge of the frame with contrasting tones and shapes. Since the woman walking up the steps (of La Defense in Paris) jumps out in contrast to the surrounding tones and shapes, she becomes the focus. If you were to place a lone figure anywhere inside this frame, you would achieve the same effect—the figure would always remain the point of interest.


How big is that haul truck? Since there is nothing that comes close to replicating the human shape, (other than monkeys and apes) the odds are quite strong that when one see’s a silhouetted shape that replicates the human form, the eye will assume it must be “one of us” and quickly judgments about the size and scale of the surroundings based on the shape fo the human form. So how big are those haul trucks they use at gold and silver mines around the world? Really BIG!



When I first met Sherry, I recall vividly her level of determination and stubbornness. I did not see these qualities expressed with her camera and lens, but rather I saw it being expressed at a local coffee shop in Cape Cod regarding her desired coffee order. “Assuming she has this kind of attitude with image making, she will go far”, I said silently to myself. 

More than seven years have passed since that day and it’s fair to say that Sherry was and still is a fiercely determined and still stubborn photographer who settles for nothing short of excellence! She is in many respects a Rock and Roll band’s dream PR machine, as any one of her many ‘band’ images not only speaks a thousand words but it does so in 4/4 time!  As you are about to find out, Sherry knows the art of image making!


1) When did you first pick up a camera and do you remember your first picture?

Probably before I even remember. My grandmother always had a film Nikon camera in her hands, and the magic of the darkroom always fascinated me. I received a Polaroid camera when I was 7 and used it on a school field trip, a Circle Line boat tour in NYC, my first shot was a photo of the Statue of Liberty.


2) How long have you been shooting?

I have always had an interest in it…we lost all our family photos/history in a fire when I was 4, so I have always had an urge to document and preserve memories. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I really thought about it again, & once she took up horseback riding and competing, I found that those 12 hour days were best occupied with a camera in my hands and I was able to photograph her without the “oh mom” complaints.


3) Why did you choose your particular specialty?

I didn’t choose music photography, I sort of fell into it. As a digital scrap booker, I met a bunch of women online. To improve our photo skills we took one of Bryan Peterson’s field workshops, where I met some wonderful folks, that to this day, I still travel and correspond with. That led to Photoshop World and various Photography seminars…one struck a chord with me. Alan Hess’s concert photography. Music Photography is very challenging to do well. Lighting, if/when its available changes by the second, people are always in motion, there is stage clutter, obstacles between you and your subjects, you have to be mindful of everyone’s expressions, move quickly, anticipate the action, stay out of the fans way, work your camera in the dark, know it inside out, and capture a 200th of a second that expresses something, be able to post process the shot and there are no second chances.. Either you get the shot or you don’t. You have no control over lighting, expressions, poses, or placement. You watch, you study, you pray… a lot. Combining my love of music with photography… win/win! I am on the board of our local weekly photo club, and to keep 180 people engaged is a chore, so one of the projects I started was a themed project 52 (365 was too much for me). Mine was inspired by what Alan was doing, at the time his focus was musicians hands, so for me to stick with completing the task, I choose to photograph a musician a week.. I printed up a coffee table book at the end. Everyone wanted this book, I ended up having a book release party at The Norva, sold 200 books and haven’t looked back since. I am now a full fledged band-tographer.


4) What are your top three destinations for shooting? Is there somewhere you have NOT shot but you hope to shoot there one day?

I love National Parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone, even though the landscape may not change, the light sculpts it beautifully and uniquely if you pay attention. New England with its rugged shorelines, rocks, crashing waves, simple colors, I could not imagine every living away from the ocean, and it reminds me of less complicated and less industrialized times from my younger years. My hope is to shoot far up north and be able to capture the Northern Lights, the magic of nature and science. Alaska would be on my bucket list also, to document one of our dwindling natural expanses and the animals of that region.


5) Which, if any, photographers inspired you the most? 

Jay Maisel, for two reasons. I am very much an introvert, my camera is my safety net, my comfort zone, I can hide behind it and work instead of socializing. The concept of just being able to walk around and meet so many fascinating people without fear absolutely had me in awe. Then I met him, in Orlando, in the hotel hallway, I was starstruck, I exclaimed to him that he was Jay Maisel! He replied, “Yeah, what’s it to you?” I said, “Not a thing, just checking…” we laughed, continued our mutual NY style banter and he asked me what I like to shoot, so I replied to my world famous street/people photographer idol, “anything but people”… insert awkward silence…. He looked at me and said, “What the hell are you so afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen?” For once in my life I didn’t have a quick comeback.. I never forgot that conversation or my promise to him to try.. we laugh about it now when I see him..


6) How do you create income from your work, e.g. gallery sales, stock, assignment, workshops, books etc.?

You don’t make money with music photography… you do it because you love it and enjoy the perks along the way.. Having said that, I seem to have created a unique local niche for myself. I shoot both national and locals acts, but I love my locals! I have been documenting our local music scene since 2012. I publish books about our local rock stars, their original music and do well with that. I have work everywhere, billboards, magazines, websites, papers, merchandise, CD’s etc. I consider it my resume which opens up a lot of paid event work and band promo shoots. I have an online gallery of all my show shoots that they purchase from for their promo stuff… every little bit helps. (SherryShootsShows.com)


7) What one thing fuels your photographic passion more than anything else?

Feedback from my audience fuels me. I meet fascinating people, people come up to me that I haven’t met saying they enjoy my work, or even better that they discovered a local artist thru my photos. I introduce musicians to each other, showcase my engineers, put a spotlight on our local music scene and people are responding, so having an impact on our local music area is quite a feeling.

8) Where do you find inspiration? 

My inspiration comes from happy accidents… continued learning, trying new things. I love online classes, dissecting photos that others take, and trying to recreate things I see. I don’t want to copy anyone, I use it as a fun way to continue to build a solid knowledge base for myself. Out of that comes happy accidents and you find yourself going down a different road of discovery of new techniques.


9) What camera system/equipment you use? Do you have a favorite lens? 

I use Canon gear, the factory is literally down the block from my house. I have a pair of 5D Mark III’s , one with a 24-70 f/2.8 the other with a 70-200 f/2.8. I have used the Canon line from the 20D on up.. but for what I shoot, the Mark III’s low light capabilities are invaluable. I have a dozen lenses but my go to lenses live on my cameras.


The photographer, Sherry Boylan


10) What, if any, advice do you have for our BPSOP members?

Never stop learning or having fun with photography.. Shoot for yourself, shoot in raw and practice as much as you can. Embrace and learn from your mistakes. Learn new techniques and shoot things beyond your likes and/or comfort zone because it will expand your photographic knowledge which will help across the board. Find or start a photo group of like minded people.. it will energize you and keep you on your game.


“You keep shooting!”

Bryan F Peterson/Founder BPSOP


How big is that haul truck? Since there is nothing that comes close to replicating the human shape, (other than monkeys and apes) the odds are quite strong that when one see’s a silhouetted shape that replicates the human form, the eye will assume it must be “one of us” and quickly judgments about the size and scale of the surroundings based on the shape fo the human form. So how big are those haul trucks they use at gold and silver mines around the world? Really BIG!




I have always had one if not several theme’s going on throughout my photographic career. Sometimes my theme’s last for several weeks, “shoot nothing but macro abstracts of peeling paint!” or several years, “shoot nothing but people over the age of 60 years old”. It is my belief, and not just in photography, but in life, that having a theme or a goal out there in front of your gives your life not only more meaning but also greater focus; pun intended!





We live in a huge world filled with so much photographic opportunity that at times it is really and truly overwhelming. So much so, that we don’t go out and shoot because we don’t even know where to begin.   But with a theme in your mind, amazing things begin to happen. You feel focused, alive and enthused. You’re on a mission and you’re unstoppable.



The choice in themes are as vast as there are stars in the sky. (See what I mean? There is a theme right there; the stars and the galaxies. Choose this theme and soon you will be labeled as that astronomical photographer.)



If simple themes such as lifestyle, architecture, business, industry or sports sound to broad, its because they are! Make it a point to really, really define the theme; reflections, eyes, shoes, tools, windows, smiles, flowers, old growth forests, barns, birds, steelworkers, carnival people, castles, three year olds, feathers, fruits, amusement parks, auto-junk yards, bridges, lighthouses, famous cities, taxi cab drivers, wind surfers, cowboys, librarians, gas stations, fast food restaurants, churches, the information age, rainbows, inclement weather, skateboarders, orchards, clowns, teenagers at leisure, nudes, bears, waterfalls, volcanoes, airplanes, crosswalks and doorknobs to name but a few.




If nothing else, shooting images centered around your theme will always lead to other discoveries.  And these same discoveries often translate into images that are quickly added to your existing library of winning images.





And in case you are wondering, I have been shooting this red ball with white stripes for more than ten years now. Who knows where this project may end up!


If your photographic passion seems to have turned luke warm, consider a theme, if not several theme. It may be just what you need to get your passion for image making back on track.





You Keep Shooting!

Bryan F Peterson/Founder BPSOP.com

Getting to know your Nikon D800E, Nikkor 70-300mm at 140mm, f/16 @ 15 seconds, 200ISO, Tripod

I can’t speak for all of you but I can speak for a large swath of us who live here in the Mid-West; it looks like spring might actually be on its way and this could not be better news! Most of us in living in the Midwest or Northeast are all too familiar with a winter we can’t wait to forget and nothing helps put the winter blahs behind us quicker than these beautiful and ‘warm’ spring days! If you have been looking for a reason to finally dust off the camera and get outside and start shooting the promise of spring just could be it!
Nikon D800E, Nikkor 70-300mm at 140mm, f/16 @ 15 seconds, 200ISO, Tripod
As for me, I have spent the last week shooting in Chicago, including this skyline shot. In addition I have been shooting a number of new “you keep shooting” videos which I will be sharing with all of you in the coming weeks! Also, in the coming months we will be bringing back some of our more popular specialty classes as well as bringing on some new instructors and new classes as well.
I wanted to also reach out to all of you and ask you to please share with me via email, any ideas you might have about what kind of classes you would like to see or what kind of changes/additions you would like to see here at the new BPSOP.com. I am wanting to offer nothing short of the best photographic educational experience out there and I know with your continued input, we will be able to continue to do just that!


Also, as you may have noticed, we are featuring a Photographer of the Week story here at BPSOP every Friday and if you would like to be considered or know of someone who you feel should be considered for these featured profiles please don’t hesitate in contacting me with the information as well! We love to celebrate the work of others who obviously share the passion for image making! This week we feature the work of Stephanie Cuneo and like all of us she too has a great story about how her journey got started!


And as always, if you have anything you would like to share with me about your experiences here at BPSOP please do not hesitate to write me.
Bryan F Peterson/Founder BPSOP.com
Student Interview with Stephanie Cuneo
1. Where do you live?
I live with my husband in Los Angeles where I have spent my entire life.  We live in a canyon on the West side of the city where we are semi-tucked away yet close to everything.
2. How did you get started in photography and what do you like most about it?
My husband and I have traveled extensively for many years and I recorded our travels with a point and shoot.   In 2011, I decided to move up to a DSLR  just before we took off for a trip to China.  When we returned I attended a travel seminar put on by Scott Stulberg, one of the BPSOP instructors.  When the lights dimmed and his slide show began, I sat transfixed and inspired at the thought of creating my own images some day.  He told me about BPSOP and the rest is history.  My love affair with photography had begun.
Photography is a never ending journey and that’s one of the things I really like about it.  It is a continual learning experience.  The excitement of making images that represent my vision is very rewarding.
3. Do you have a favorite photo subject or place to shoot?
Currently I enjoy travel photography and street photography.  That includes just about every subject!   I love to capture people doing everyday things in their environment.  I also I love to shoot old buildings with lots of history and character.  The more peeling paint and rusty hardware, the better!
4. Do you have favorite photographers you follow or photographers from the past you admire and why?
There are several photographers from the past that I admire with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Willy Ronis being at the top of my list.  I admire both of them for their candid capture of everyday life and storytelling.  Contemporary photographers include Nevada Wier for her capture of movement through long exposures, and Lars van de Goor for his mesmerizing images that capture spectacular light.
5. Where do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by following other photographers, and by attending talks at the Annenberg Space for Photography where photographers speak and show their images.  They discuss their thought processes behind their images.   I also attend a National Geographic speaker series that features remarkable photographers who give fantastic presentations and behind the scene views of what it takes to be a photographer for National Geographic.
In addition, I find participating in photography workshops to be very inspiring as well as educational.  I have attended workshops to Burma and the Palouse with Scott Stulberg; to Charleston with Donna Eaton and Kathleen Clemons; and to Napa and Cuba with Joe Baraban.  Being part of a workshop with an enthusiastic instructor and like-minded photographers is very inspiring and I always come away with new ideas to try.
6. Do you have any mentors? 
Joe Baraban and Scott Stulberg have both been mentors and have given me very candid and constructive critiques, praise, and encouragement.   Joe has encouraged me to believe in my abilities as a photographer.  That belief has fueled my drive to continue to grow.
7. What are some of your photographic goals?
I am very fortunate to have traveled to the far corners of the world, and I want to share my travels with others in such a way that they can feel like they’ve been there with me.  I want to keep my passion alive, and continue to grow as a photographer by constantly learning and trying new techniques.  Finding photography at a “mature” time in my life has made me all the more aware of how important it is to make the time to shoot.  I want to print some of my favorite images and see them hanging on my walls.  That might sound simple, but so far the print is not the same as my monitor and vision.  I will be very happy if I’m able to accomplish this!
8. Where can we see more of your work?
I invite you to visit my website at:  stephaniecuneo.com



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  • I have just completed my third course with BPSOP! This year I was fortunate enough to take Authentic Photo Series with Ms. Brit Hammer. I can’t remember when I’ve had this much fun in a class!!! The instruction was absolutely wonderful and I feel as though the course really helped me to stretch my photographic horizons. More than this, however, Ms. Hammer inspired me to expand my boundaries as a person as well. Brit is not just a wonderful photographer in her own right, but she is also a truly outstanding teacher . . . , of many, many things. I’ve often said there are great photographers and there are great teachers, but it’s seldom that you find a great photographer who’s also a great teacher. Brit truly excels at both. Lastly, let me complement you, Mr. Peterson. Great people don’t just come along by accident. You have assembled a genuinely gifted and caring teaching staff. Thanks so much for providing a wonderful service to photographers everywhere! Read More
    Rick Elliott Authentic Photo Series
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