MPA: Why do you love photography?

BS: I’ve always been a sucker for a good story. I’ve got two writing degrees, a ridiculous comic book collection, 20+ years in professional public relations, am addicted to audiobooks – and I am married to a librarian. Photography is storytelling. There’s also the whole adventure component. Going places, meeting people, turning the corner and there’s picture/story staring you straight in the face, an amazing change in the weather (for good or bad), etc

MPA: Your favorite thing about MPA?

BS: By far it’s the quality, attention, and enthusiasm of the instructors – and now the community. The trips have a large ratio of instructors, so you are getting a lot of attention at your level. I remember this one trip where David was all over me about watching my shutter speed on aperture priority mode, which was also telling me that I was ready to shoot on manual by showing me the limitation on my work (vs. some platitude like “shoot in manual”). The whole day pushing that in my head. It got me into manual mode and thinking far more about subtle changes in my photos.  

The attention doesn’t end in trips. The PEN community is terrific, and image reviews (in depth and even casual) are so valuable because you get feedback from David, Ally, Steve and Toby – as well as the community. It’s a terrific place – almost like a digital neighborhood where everyone is looking out for each other with some amazing photographers to learn from. You get support, but also the serious critique (if you want it) that pushes you. At least three times in one year I’ve asked for Tuesday tip or tutorial on something, and wham! it appears. That’s pretty amazing.

MPA: Your favorite trip or course with MPA?

BS: Yellowstone. And the extension with Animals of Montana was terrific. It’s a great way to get into wildlife photography and just have a lot of fun with a great group of people. (The photos are terrific, too.) The countryside and park are beautiful – even when it’s ridiculously cold and snowing sideways. 

MPA: Your aspirations as a photographer / artist?

BS:  Now that I have the fundamentals down and shooting in manual mode, fluent in Lightroom, etc., my goal is to define my style and create art and emotion vs. simply documenting a moment and getting exposure, etc. right. I’ve learned a lot quickly, but now I need to focus and hone the craft, with smaller, harder gains over time to get even better. Instead of taking a bunch of photos and “sorting it out later in Lightroom,”

I want to very purposeful and think about a thread of the story to build upon before I press the shutter. “What do I want from this? What is the story I am going to tell? Who’s the protagonist? What do I want to viewer to feel? How do these series of photographs when presented together create a powerful narrative?” I’m less harsh on myself about technology, and very serious about the story and focus and craft and taking far more risks.

I’ve started printing and that opens up a lot of learning. I want to spend more time working a scene before pressing the shutter. Shoot with more purpose. Craft with more precision. Edit more delicately. And then, maybe, create more memorable art.

MPA: Where do you look forward to traveling next?

BS: I am headed back to Mexico next year and just returned from shooting the Day of the Dead celebrations. I’ve been to Cuba twice, and can’t wait to go back. Cuba is a street photography dream location with amazing people whose faces seem to tell a hundred stories in a single frame—and it’s at a critical point of change. There’s something terrific when you’re taking human photos that are also rooted in deep history, tradition or ritual. 

You can find Bryan’s work HERE or on Facebook or Instagram (@bkscanlon).

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