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Enjoy this collection of photographs by Huntington Witherill.

Find out more about Huntington Witherill.

 

2GenProcess

Thursday March 26 at 6 pm I’ll present a Canon sponsored lecture at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke, Virginia.

I’ll discuss the creative process from many angles in a set of interrelated short lectures, sharing my thoughts on photography, telling the stories behind some of my classic images, and demonstrating the techniques I use.

The concurrent exhibits Generations (father / son) and Process will be on display until March 28th.

Find details and directions here.

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Enjoy this collection of my photographs.

Read a collection of my quotes.

Read an interview with me.

View documentaries with me.

View more 12 Great Photographs By Great Photographers.

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Paul Caponigro, Inner Trilithon, Sunrise, Stonehenge, 1970, Gela

Enjoy this collection of my father’s photographs.

Read a collection of quotes by Paul Caponigro.

Read an interview with Paul Caponigro.

View a documentary on Paul Caponigro.

Explore 12 Great Photographs By Great Photographers.


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“Actors on a Stage”

It was a lightbulb moment. The ship chugged and crunched its way through pack ice. The excited babble of the photographers fell to an awestruck silence as we passed one of Antarctica’s most inspiring sights, an iceberg the size of an apartment block with a deep crystal blue interior. I was shooting from the prow. I turned to look back along the deck and saw about 50 photographers, all shooting from the port side. But one – John Paul Caponigro – had moved to the upper deck and was shooting wave crests on the opposite side of the boat. Why?

Later he explained his philosophy as, ‘actors on a stage’. These images weren’t to be seen singly. Rather they were part of a bigger narrative, characters in a story. Some might go on to become heroes, others were bit part players. For me, a lightbulb went on.

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From two to three dimensions. Suddenly I saw an extra dimension to my work in terms of series and stories. Just as individual words/notes have greater meaning together as a poem/song, so images can have more energy when seen as part of a project. I was possibly the last person on the planet to realise this but projects make us think more deeply about our work as iteration takes over from the endless snapping of new images. But why stop there? If a switch of mindset can have such a beneficial effect, what else could I do to stimulate my creativity and take the next step?

From three to four dimensions. Enter stage right; new technology. Collaboration is something we take for granted. As humans we have a basic need to collaborate. We do it every day with partners, friends and colleagues. More recently it has become a buzzword in social media as technology compresses time and distance to give us the tools to collaborate artistically. Think Adobe Creative Cloud, Asana, G+, Dropbox …etc. Now it is coming of age in photography.

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Enter stage left; Eileen McCarney Muldoon, a fine art and travel photographer and educator based in Rhode Island, USA. Since meeting in Tibet two years ago, Eileen and I have collaborated on a variety of projects. We’ve explored multiple exposures, visual rhymes, incorporating words and working in film and digital. Along the way we made a simple but startling discovery–that despite collaboration being so unusual in photography, it produces dramatic results.

And the benefits aren’t just temporary. When that extra dimension transferred back into our solo work, we realised that we had stumbled on something important, which had enabled us to grow artistically. If it worked so well for us –why shouldn’t it work for others?

The inspiration generated by collaboration will lead you to pictures that will astonish you…and your friends. We have developed a range of tools and techniques to guide you through the collaborative process. You can learn more by checking out ‘Visual Conversations’, a workshop I’m co-teaching with Eileen McCarney Muldoon at Maine Media College, starting June 21st 2015.

Find out about the Visual Conversations Workshop here.

Find more Alumni Success Stories here.

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Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on Persistence.

“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” – Jim Watkins

“There are two ways of attaining an important end, force and perseverance; the silent power of the latter grows irresistible with time.” – Sophie Swetchine

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ― Calvin Coolidge

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” – Napoleon Hill

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” – Bill Bradley

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” ― Thomas A. Edison

“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” – John D. Rockefeller

Read more

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Here’s a collection of my favorite photographs by John Pfahl here.

Find out more about John Pfahl here.

Find more Great Photographs collections here.

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Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer John Pfahl.

“People think the camera steals their soul. Places, I am convinced, are affected in the opposite direction. The more they are photographed (or drawn and painted) the more soul they seem to accumulate.” – John Pfahl

“It would have been possible to structure my photographs in such a way that no indicators of the present were discernible. However, I wanted to incorporate into the project as a whole the jostling of time-frames I would feel as I set up my tripod on various rocky promontories.” – John Pfahl

“I often wondered why I was attracted to certain landscapes and not others and why my photographs (and depictions by other artists) looked the way they did, Archetypes imprinted on my mind started me on a search …” – John Pfahl

“Somehow I felt that if Fox Talbot had had more time and more drawing talent, he would have filled in the interval between his two drawings and made a complete panorama. Now, 163 years later, I was able to use his great invention to elaborate on his youthful dream of capturing and fixing the fleeting image. In doing so, I may also have added another little bit to the soul of this extraordinary place.” – John Pfahl

“I have been using the art of photography to research the ways in which the pictorial strategies of the Nineteenth Century color the way in which the American landscape is apprehended by today’s viewers.” – John Pfahl

“Photography, of course, is the perfect medium for the investigation. It can reveal the truth of present day specifics and particularities, while at the same time, by conscious choice of lighting and pictorial structure, suggest the aesthetic legacy of the past.” – John Pfahl

“It is not without trepidation that I have appropriated the codes of “the Sublime” and “the Picturesque” in my work. After all, serious photographers have spent most of this century trying to expunge such extravagances from their art. The tradition lives on, mostly in calendars and picture postcards. I was challenged to rework and revitalize that which had been so roundly denigrated.” – John Pfahl

“While making my “picture window” photographs, I came to think that every room was like a gigantic camera forever pointed at the same view.”” – John Pfahl

“Strangers with puzzled looks were amazingly cooperative in letting me into their rooms with my photographic gear. They let me take down the curtains, wash the windows, and rearrange the furniture. Often, too, they expressed their desire to share their view with others, as if it were a non-depletable treasure.
I liked the idea that my photographic vantage points were not solely determined by myself. They were predetermined by others, sometimes years earlier, and patiently waited for me to discover them.” – John Pfahl

“As Estelle Jussim wrote, it is almost impossible for a single photograph to state both the problem and the solution.” – John Pfahl

“I became wary of simple interpretations that assumed fixed and final meanings.” – John Pfahl

“I want to make photographs whose very ambiguity provokes thought, rather than cuts it off prematurely. I want to make pictures that work on a more mysterious level, that approach the truth by a more circuitous route.” – John Pfahl

Find out more about John Pfahl here.

Explore more quotes in The Essential Collection Of Photographer’s Quotes.

IMG_6140Check your inboxes! My enews Insights went out yesterday.

If you missed it, email me at jpc@johnpaulcaponigro.com and I’ll forward it to you.

This issue highlights 3 advanced color adjustment strategies.

Plus you’ll discover new events, ebooks, galleries, quotes and more.

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Image courtesy of Taubman Museum

This is a guest post by Sam Krisch, a John Paul Caponigro Next Step Alumnus who lives and works in Roanoke, Virginia. He has curated an exhibition entitled Paul Caponigro and John Paul Caponigro: Generations which will be showing at the Taubman Museum of Art through March 28, 2015. An exhibition of his work Sam Krisch: Elements will open at Virginia Tech’s Center for the Arts on December 5, 2014.

             About 18 months ago I was asked to join the staff of the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia as an adjunct curator of photography.  The position was part-time and my job was to act as a proposer and organizer of exhibitions and to meet with others in the curatorial staff to discuss and plan our future programs.  The Taubman Museum opened in 2008 and was a successor to several art museums in Roanoke, a small railroad heritage city in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The facility consists of nine galleries, an exploratory gallery for children, a theatre and an auditorium. It shows all kinds of art including painting, sculpture, ceramics, decorative arts, film, folk art and photography. In recent years it has exhibited works by Dorothea Lange, Edward Burtynsky, Alan Cohen, Civil Rights Photographers of the 1960s, Roanoke Times Photojournalists and several local photographic artists. The notes for one of its current exhibitions “Beg, Borrow and Steal” states that photography “plays a significant role in much of the work, which is represented in the exhibition by artists John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, Richard Prince, David Salle, and Cindy Sherman; all of whom are using manipulated photographic images to create dense collages or appropriating stereotypical portraits in humorous ways.”

           It has been a valuable experience. I have learned that curating is a basic skill that all artists need to use in evaluating their work. We need to examine our artistic influences, create collections and bodies of work, see their evolution over time. Peer review also is vital in artistic growth and again is another data point in the personal curating process. Professional curating is an extension of this skill.

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The Speed Curators

For the past several years I have taught workshops in digital creativity. We use mobile phones as a basis for this practice, but we always start with an exercise in “speed curating.”This is valuable because people start to learn the elements that attract their eye and verbalize those aspects. Recently, I have had the pleasure of participating in leading continuing education programs for art teachers at the Taubman Museum. Some of it has been adapted from my mobile photography courses, but the speed curating exercise is a vital part of the day.

The exercise begins with about 200 5”x 5”of my iPhone prints spread out on tables in the library. I tell the group “I am setting a timer for 6 minutes. During this time you can look BUT YOU MAY NOT touch the images. Don’t touch. Your assignment will be to choose between 6-8 images that work together and that you will present as if you are a gallery or museum curator. After that you will have 6 minutes to collect your images and then we will take them in the next room.”

It is always interesting to see the personalities at play. Some aggressively grab images and others hang back only to be disappointed that some of their favorites have already been taken. They have to either rethink their collections or find similar images. This mimics a curator’s dilemma of sometimes not being able to get all the works he or she wants and having to substitute work.

In the board room we talk about why we have chosen our images. The art teachers are used to talking about their own work as well as the work of their students. Each has a different idea and a different style. Some strictly look for artistic elements such as composition, contrast, color and form. Others use the images to tell a personal story or struggle that they are working through. Some even use song lyrics or musical references. All bring their own creative views to the collections. The act of rejecting and culling is as valuable as the act of inclusion. The same is true whether curating personal work, a personal collection of other artists, or for an institution.

Campbell Gunn, a fellow alumnus of John Paul Caponigro’s workshops, has created a portable collection of curated work. He finds photographers that he admires and organizes them in a collection on his iPad. Campbell says: “I simply create a dropbox master folder with subfolders for each photographer I am interested in and then as I find images that I think are instructive for my own visual reference library I copy them across. Then I have a Lightroom catalog that I use as a database which then syncs with an iPad app called PhotoMgrPro. The theme is developing ‘visual literacy’ or a ‘pattern language’. As with all languages, if you have a basic vocabulary and understand grammar, you can combine words or phrases to create new sentences (or in this case images) – without falling into the trap of being derivative or repetitive. It helps you find your own voice by understanding what it is in others voices that resonates most.”It is important to note that you should only copy low res images for this collection, keep them for your private use, and don’t copy images from books. Copying images from books is against the law in some countries.

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From Two Generationsto “Generations

When I started curating I had a number of ideas for photography exhibitions and busily contacted artists and curators from other institutions to attempt to work up presentations for our curating committee. My projects were competing with space and scheduling of other exhibitions in other media. The Taubman Museum keeps variety and balance in its programming and even within each medium is careful not to overdo one type of painting or one type of photography. For example, a fine documentary photography exhibition that may of been available to us was discouraged by the committee because of recent documentary exhibitions. The committee was interested in the Paul Caponigro and John Paul Caponigro exhibition that had shown several times in other institutions and encouraged me to explore this work.

I was delighted because not only has the Caponigros’work strongly influenced my own,  but John Paul is my mentor and friend and there was a comfort level that was valuable in planning this exhibition. The Caponigros were very gracious in making their personal collections available to us and sent us a list of the works that had been exhibited.

We found a slot in our gallery schedule that worked and it was one of our larger galleries. Our Deputy Director of Exhibitions and I walked into the gallery and realized that we could have a very sterile show. It is a large room with almost 200 feet of wall space and is an average of 40 feet wide. I saw a long row of father on one wall and a long row of son on the other. The room would have very little flow, very little interest. We needed more work, we needed a better design.

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With help from the artists and our Exhibitions staff we came up for a design for the gallery that included temporary interior walls to add interest and variety to the presentation. The walls allow for a dialogue between the two artists. Some of the interior walls have images by father and son that are related, others have a single artist in direct contrast with the other.

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I am a fan of John Paul’s book Process and he had prepared some of the images in that book to form a framed presentation that was ready to display. We thought that it would be very useful for educators to have JP’s thoughts and illustrations on his show in its own separate section. Although the images were set, it became a challenge to provide text within our guidelines for display. Our solution was to take quotes from the book—under fifty words a piece—and let the images and text guide the viewer through that part of the exhibition.

           With the addition of the Process materials we had a show that embraced both the artists and the artistic process, the two generations of vision and work, and the generation of ideas.  We also designed the exhibition in a way that would help slow people down during their walk through the gallery and stimulate discussion—perhaps even argument—about the merits of each artist’s work and their use of two of photography’s main technologies. It has become an illustration of photography’s history, the creative process, and for many their first exposure to two major artists.

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Find out more about Sam Krisch here.

Find more Alumni Success Stories here.


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