The path I've taken from bright-eyed camera buff to creative photographer has been long and circuitous.
Remember the pudgy kid in high school who played the slide trombone and took pictures for the year book? That was me.
My first photography job consisted of shooting little league teams and couples at high school proms. A dollop of dumb luck got me a job at the Richmond Independent, a small Bay Area newspaper, where I made all of the mistakes a young photographer could make. But I eventually moved to the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle.
At the Chronicle I learned a great deal from a group of talented photographers that included Joe Rosenthal of "Flag Raising on Iwo Jima" fame, and Peter Breinig, who also taught me to fly.
I left the paper after about five years and spent the next decade traveling all over the world, shooting pictures for a client list that included Transamerica Airlines, The Pacific Area Travel Association, The San Francisco Opera, and Bechtel Construction.
I think of these as my "Kodachrome years," during which I fell in love with color, and my love of Jazz led me to the work of Pete Turner, which convinced me that color itself could be the subject of a photograph.
But it's at this point that my career took a major detour. I discovered computers, built one, and learned to program. This led to an obsession that lasted more than thirty years.
It's only been recently that two events -- a bout with cancer and an episode with an unscrupulous programming client -- have combined to bring me to my senses, though I still keep a finger in the programming pie -- building web sites like this.
So here I am once again with camera in hand, but this time without any film. I spent thousands of hours in the darkroom and I don't miss a minute of it. The digital photographic process offers so much more control over the final image that I now think of film as an ordeal that I managed to survive.
My years spent in front of a computer screen have, of course, made me very comfortable with software tools (e.g. Photoshop), and have given me more insight into the digital world than most photographers will ever have - or need!
(I don't actually think that knowing the internal structure of a TIFF file helps me produce better pictures, but it couldn't hurt.)
The journey from enthusiast to craftsman to artist continues. As a photojournalist I was concerned with the subject and with telling a story. As I gained experience I learned to identify and capture the "decisive moment", and I began paying more attention to composition and the tonal range of the finished print.
Kodachrome brought not only color, but finer grain and greater detail, making textures more prominent. Flying revealed interleaved shapes and patterns - natural fractals mingling with human geometry. Digital tools and techniques let me create prints that reveal all of the details that high resolution cameras can capture.
And that's where I am now: In pursuit of rich and complex images which both delight the eye and offer a unique view of the world. I hope that you'll come back to this site often to see how I'm doing.
- gregory peterson
My images are meant to be viewed as rather large prints.
I might suggest that you press your nose to the screen to achieve the intended effect, but I doubt that it'll help.
Drop by this site every now and then for information about shows at which you can see my prints in all their outsized glory.
Doin' It Myself
I make all of my prints in my studio.
I'm just too damn fussy to leave that to anyone else. I also digitize my transparencies and cut my own mats, but, because every time I've tried it I've managed to break the
glass and ruin the print, I leave framing to others.
Notes on Equipment
Photography is all about light and vision. Equipment isn't important.
That said, I have a couple of pieces of equipment that are important to my current work.
The Nikon D800 is a joy. Its small size, light weight, and high resolution sensor make it ideal for aerial photography.
And my HP z5200 printer, pictured here, lets me make prints up to 44 inches wide and up to 100 feet long.
By using pigment inks and acid-free, fiber based paper, it can produce archival prints that will outlive even the youngest person reading this.