Students of Southeast
Community College photography instructor Bradley Peters probably don’t even
know they’re learning from a Yale-educated photographer. He doesn’t care if
they know about his college pedigree, but he does care about students finding
“My favorite thing is when
students start to believe in themselves,” Peters said. “I am always trying to
find those things in students and making it nurture and grow.”
He said it took him some time
before he found his passion in photography. Many of his teachers would tell him
he wasn’t good at art, and he should try something else.
“They were wrong,” he said.
“I had a lot of teachers who pointed out my flaws. I was lucky by the time I
got to college.”
Originally from Columbus, Neb.,
Peters attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and studied psychology. He
had some elective classes to fill and took an introductory to photography
course and fell in love with it. He took every photography class that was
offered at UNL.
“I decided I would have a
much more fulfilling, enriched life in photography than getting my doctorate in
psychology,” Peters said.
He decided to apply to Yale
for his master’s degree in photography, knowing only nine students a year are accepted.
He was the fourth and last student from UNL to get into the program. It was the
only school in which he applied. His classmates were students from the East and
West coasts, as well as an international student.
“There’s nothing special
about me to get into a school like that, I just made it my goal,” he said.
He graduated in 2008 and
learned more than he ever imagined.
“I went to school with my
heroes,” Peters said. “I learned from the best and will pass that on to my
students. It’s never too late in your life to do something. You should never
He and his wife, Dara,
decided to stay on the East Coast for another year before coming to Nebraska to
settle down. The couple has three children under the age of 6. They love the
state of Nebraska and plan to stay here because of the affordable cost of
living, and they still find it in the budget to travel.
“People are wonderful here,”
he said. “On the East Coast, if you’re nice to people, they wonder what you’re
In addition to instructing at
SCC, Peters also teaches at Peru State College and Midland University. He still
finds time to pursue his passion of photography, especially in the summer when
he has more time.
“A lot of people think of
photography as a hobby,” Peters said. “For me it’s something I have to do. If I
don’t do it, I go crazy. If you’re an addict of anything, you find a way to
make it happen.”
Peters says people don’t
always like his work, and he takes pride in that.
“I like images that are
metaphorical,” he said. “Where you can pull out your own personal narrative. I
take a lot of pride that people get mad at my work for different reasons.”
Peters recently released a
book featuring black-and-white photos he used to get into graduate school. His
goal for the future is to work as a full-time photography teacher. He turned down
a full-time job in Brooklyn because he wants to raise his family in Nebraska.
“Artistically, I can do
whatever I want here, and I don’t have to worry about my safety,” he said.
“Lincoln has really upped its game in the last decade, and I think it’s only
going to get better.”
Peters currently teaches Intro
to Digital Photography and Creative Imaging, the History of Photography, Intro
to Photojournalism and Social Media Journalism at SCC.