Arts & Culture

San Luis Obispo County photographers showcase the world through their lens


Editor’s Note: This is the second of two columns featuring local photographers. Here four artists share the allure of distant landscapes and people.

When Laura Dienzo of Atascadero travels, she tries to “see beyond what’s familiar,’’ she said. “I love to survey the scene to find an angle or element that isn’t overshot by others looking at the same scene.”

On a recent visit to Grand Central Station in New York with her husband, photographer Ray Dienzo, for example, an obvious photo would have been of the great hall with swarms of passengers moving to their various destinations. Although she snapped that image, she said, she was also struck by the contrasting empty track where there were just a few construction workers. So she took that photo too.

Ray Dienzo’s approach to his work differs. While they both photographed Niagara Falls on their trip to the East Coast, she chose to focus on a stunning silhouette of Canada’s Skylon Tower while he photographed and video-recorded the falls.

“In Niagara Falls, it was the power of the falls that I wanted to capture,” Ray Dienzo said. “I personally like to view our trips in terms of some kind of historical significance or personal meaning. For example, it was fun to see Cooperstown and New York, which are rich in history and to take pictures with this in mind.”

San Luis Obispo photographer Peggy Jansson, who has traveled to Hawaii, New Mexico, South Carolina, Palouse, Wash., and Miami’s South Beach, tries to “make an ordinary image extraordinary” by framing her subject through her camera’s lens or by adding light and color through Photoshop.

Photographer Dorothy Cutter of Morro Bay was a painter for 40 years before she took up photography.

“That came about because I took up scuba diving and saw such wondrous things underwater but was unable to capture it in paintings,” she said. “Photography can capture the beauty of the underwater world and because I was ready for a change and a recharging of my creative efforts, I began learning all I could about a new medium.”

Cutter has no desire to document history but instead wants to create art through photography. She photographs a subject, but considers the photograph far from finished.

“With all the tools that are now available to photographers, I can look at my images on my computer screens and work on them the same way I did on my paintings,” she said.

“The difference is these images are photographs as opposed to images that came out of my head,” she added. “The end result will be different but the same things I care about are there: impact, color and design and creating a beautiful world. I like to see beauty and not chaos and ugliness. The big bonus is I no longer have to clean brushes and lift heavy paintings.”

Paula McCambridge is a freelance writer living in Atascadero. Reach her at

If you go

Peggy Jansson

Her work is on display at Dr. Barry Eibschutz’s office at 1039 Murray Ave., San Luis Obispo. Information:

Dorothy Cutter

She is giving a program, Winter in Yellowstone and the Tetons, featuring her photography at 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, 1010 Broad St., SLO. Information:

Laura and Ray Dienzo

Their work is featured through Facebook and Instagram, with gallery shows to be scheduled soon. Information: www.dienzo