Alumnus Michael J Quinn was recently interviewed and his work featured on Phoblographer.

Here’s an excerpt.


“When you’re surrounded by so much awesome beauty from nature, how to do control yourself and not take pictures of everything?”

Michael J Quinn

“In the beginning, I did take pictures of everything. Not uncommon for me to shoot 10,000 images during a week trip, which is way too much. It makes editing and pairing down images almost impossible. The sorting process becomes daunting and thus does not get done. It is only after repeated trips and mentoring by both John Paul Caponigro and Seth Resnick, that I have begun to see better in the field. Make much fewer captures but at the same time increase the quality of the images that I am capturing. I am able to pre delete images before capture. That is to say that I can mentally edit.

Is this shutter click going to result in at least a 3 star image? If not, don’t click. This is a learned trait and must be practiced. I still have a long way to go, but I am making progress. During my recent 4 week trip to the Arctic, I shot less than 5,000 images. This makes the editing process much easier.

I have more confidence in my abilities which plays a role too. I have the confidence that I can capture the scene with enough depth of field, exposure and focus. Slowing the capture process helps as well. If there is time, taking a moment to really look deeply at a subject, interpret my emotional response to a scene and then make the capture. Having a plan also helps in the capture process. Plan out what type of story or stories that you have going and where the holes are in your story. Then when you are in the field you have a shot list of images that you are looking for. It makes it much easier to sort through the chaos in the field and find the gems. You have to be prepared for the new opportunities that arrises as well – like when a Polar Bear pops his head out around a rock, but having a plan will focus your attention. Reviewing while in the field is also a valuable tool. You can confirm that your technique is working. You can look for new patterns and themes in your images. Finding new stories to tell is always exciting.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

Learn more about Michael J Quinn here.

Read more Alumni Success Stories here.



Alumni Doug Eng discusses his new exhibit Streaming South.

“Last spring, paddling a kayak became the first steps of my journey home. My birthplace and residence is Jacksonville, FL, on the St. Johns River, a 310 mile artery dotted with spring fed creeks. I often photographed a glimpse of a creek from a bridge or trail and always wondered what lay beyond what I saw.

“Streaming South” started as a desire to produce a series of intimate landscapes of individual creeks, depicting remote places in the style of early 19th century landscape painters who visited Florida and found an unspoiled paradise. Florida has changed dramatically since those times but I knew that a version of the “real” Florida may lay deep within these creeks and I wanted to find out.

Over the course of one year, I experienced the seasonal characteristics of the landscape in 33 visits to 12 creeks. I created thousands of images and started a blog,, to record each outing with comments and additional writings.

Once I began my explorations, my outward excitement about what I was seeing shifted to a personal introspection concerned with ethics, morality, respect, care, and gratitude. Not only was I given a gift of incredible beauty, peace, and solitude, but I was exposed to neglect, disrespect, and violations that stirred deep emotions. I always appreciated where I lived but never had an attachment to anything specific. I never cried when I saw trees being cut or became resentful of a dock or bulkhead on a riverbank. I never laughed at otters eyeing my passage or spent time collecting discarded bottles lodged in the roots of trees. I never witnessed the awe in a perfect reflection of over-arching trees forming a cathedral in the middle of a stream. Now things are different, I have changed.

When photographing the “environment” you make choices. Do you focus on beauty or despair or exactly what exists? It’s an easy decision for me. Beauty and peace connected me to my home. Not the plastic bottles, beer cans, old tires, and keep out signs. I believe that my advocacy for attention to these rare places must appeal to what is positive and good about our home. First connection, then care. That’s how it worked for me.

As a result of this project, I have developed a special connection to my Home. Connection is about participation, hands on experience, and being present. You must step out your door and cross the line. To really care about a place, to cherish it for what it does to our hearts and souls, to really connect with all that it is, creates the cognizance necessary for responsible, actionable stewardship. These are only pictures, but they represent in a very real way what is here and now and beautiful about our earth and where we live. This work is my advocacy. I am grateful for finding a glimmer of enlightenment through photography for myself and to share with others. The journey continues.”

Find out more about Streaming South here.

Find out more about Doug Eng here.



Alumni Scott Tansey describes his recent feature on The Leica Camera Blog.

“I took these images on a Fall Color Workshop given by John Paul Caponigro at Acadia National Park. I had recently completed a huge five-year project taking panoramic images of Los Angeles (my home town). It was time for a change, and I needed a creative spark to do something different. As I mentioned previously I had attended a printing workshop given by John Paul Caponigro, which changed my photographic direction, and I thought his workshop would give me kick-start on my creativity. It did, but not in the way I intended. I was going to shoot the fall colors. Southern California is not as noted for its fall colors as Maine is. However, when I went to shoot the fall colors, they did little to inspire me. The light was lousy, and we missed the peak by a few days. On the second day of the workshop, after much frustration, I went to our last stop that was a rock pile. Oh, wow! The evening light and the colors and the patterns of the rocks spoke to me. For the rest of the trip I focused mainly on taking close-up images of rocks on the Maine coastline.”

Read more on The Leica Camera Blog.

Read a second feature on The Leica Camera Blog.

Find out more about my Maine Fall Foliage Workshop here.

Every year, during my Acadia Maine Fall Foliage Workshop my assistant Charles Adams and I explore making photographs  with our iPhones.

Charles talks about his experience.

“Making images with an iPhone can be a terrific creative exercise. If you regularly shoot with a DSLR, the iPhone can simplify things and offer a new experience. I find this to be the case during every fall foliage workshop. I leave my Canon in the car along with all of the photographic requirements and responsibilities that I usually attach to it. It’s a freeing experience. Suddenly the pressure to make the best photographs of my life is no longer there. I’m free to play.

Being able to process your images seconds after shooting them is also key to the iPhone experience. The many apps available make it possible to shoot, edit, share, and get feedback before even getting back in the car. In my case, apps have a direct effect on which pictures I chose to make. If I know I’m going to apply water color and oil painting filters to my images, I try to shoot accordingly. I set out to find good compositions with strong “bones” or solid structures that can benefit from the addition of dramatic effects.

The resulting images are fun to create. Changing the tools you use to make your images can offer new insights into your own photography. I strongly recommend allowing yourself to play.”

Visit Charles’ website here.

Find out about my Acadia Maine Fall Foliage workshop here.


“I took this image on a workshop in Spruce Head, Maine, right after a breakup,” Graham says, “and only later realized that it represented smoothness and calmness on one side, tumult on the other, and a line of demarcation in between.” A pivotal image, it led to Graham’s evaluative question: What do I see?”

Here’s an excerpt of alumnus Jim Graham’s feature in Shutterbug.

“We assumed the first thing Jim Graham does in order to create his elegant landscape images is decide how to isolate his subjects from distracting backgrounds to achieve the always-desired single subject, clearly defined.

We were wrong. The first thing he does is ask himself: What do I see? Then he asks: How do I use the camera to communicate the feeling I have about what I see?

The answers, coupled with his skill at the striking use of color, form, and light within the frame, often result in symbolic representations of personal stories and feelings far beyond the literal subject in the frame.

Simply put, Jim Graham is out to say a lot more than ‘Isn’t this a pretty picture?'” …

Read the rest here.

Find out more about Jim Graham here.

Read more Alumni Success Stories here.


Sam Krisch opens his second solo exhibit of the year “Above Zero: Photographs From The Polar Region”  Sunday, June 14 at the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania.

In this post, Sam shares what he learned on his journey to creative success. You’ll find it inspiring and helpful.

Here are a few highlights.

“John Paul’s mentorship as well as the inspiration and encouragement of countless others led me to work harder, to dig deeper, to find new places: physical locations, internal emotions, and fresh ways of seeing. Hard work and constant study added to my skills. Through the fellowship of an international group of artists I found community and stimulation: a vast ocean of knowledge and inspiration.”

“Each particular curator sees an artist’s work in a particular way, interprets it, and often brings out a way of seeing the work that the artist hadn’t considered. A great pleasure for me is working with professionals who approach the presentation of my work in a different way. They ask probing questions for the lectures, gallery guides, and docent training. I always learn something from exhibiting my work and I am often surprised by people’s reaction to it. Some are emotionally moved, some want to know technical details, some may not like it. It’s the risk you take when you exhibit.”

Read more

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I have been honing my photographic skills over the last several years. Making strides in composition, story telling and mechanics of photography, I still lacked some finer processing skills and the art of printing. I decided that a Print is the ultimate goal of a photographer. There is just something very tangible, very permanent about a print. Anybody can flick though a series of images on an electronic device. But actually taking the time to make a print, matting, framing ,hung on wall and lit well -takes considerable more effort. It also then requires more contemplation by the audience. I think they place more weight and value on the print than in electronic form. They are more willing to commit more time with the print.

During the span of a year, I completed both of John Paul’s Intermediate and Advance printing classes. At that point I believed that I had achieved the skills required to attempt my own Print Portfolio.

There is just something substantial about the physical print. Let’s face it, we can casually look through ton’s of images on our electronic devices. They are there and then gone. But having a book full of prints is something completely different. You engage two more of your senses, touch and smell. Every book has a certain feel and personal experience to it. It evokes more of an emotional response than the electronic equivalent.

So my goal with this project was several fold.

1. Create a body of work of 24 images
2. Improve my image processing
3. Improve my print quality / skills
4. Share with as many people as I can

A decision had to be made on the format of the book. Landscape, Portrait or Square. I deiced that the square format was the most versatile of the three. With a square book I could print any aspect ratio that I wanted and not feel constrained to a particular style. Since I knew this book was going to be a work in progress and may change over time, I thought being versatile was a good trade off versus being locked into a portrait or landscape format.

The next decision that I had to make was the size of the book. I based this partly on common size of paper available. The other influence was what kind of reaction I wanted from people when they viewed the book. I made 5 prints on 13×14 inch and 17×18 inch papers and then just stapled them together to simulate the two sizes of the book I was considering. I printed horizontal, vertical and square images. I had my own opinion and then solicited several peoples opinions. The larger size won hands down. You would not think that 4 extra inches would make that dramatic of a difference but it really did. It took the scale of the book from something casual to something cherished. The larger size was just so much more engaging.

The paper choice for my Epson 9900 printer, (after some experimentation) Epson Ultrasmooth. It brought an extra dimension of depth to my ice images. The warmth of the paper gave an extra separation to the printed images. I decided that the easiest form factor would be to use 17″ wide roll paper. Then I would just allow the printer to cut the sheets to a length of 18″. This way I would not have to do any post printing trimming of the prints.

For the physical book, I had a custom binding post book and slip cover made. I choose the binding post style so that it would be easy to replace prints and so that I could completely change the theme of the book if I desired. For materials I choose Black on Black on Black. This might be generic, or called corporate, but I liked the neutrality of it and its future potential. Each of the three surfaces were a different material, so that added a subtle variation to the book. I added just a splash of Red into my debossed logo. The inner front and back sheets are sanded mylar. This essentially adds an end sheet to the book and enhances the experience when opening the book.



I learned a lot through this process. It was a great growth experience. Having a project focuses your mind and creativity. Completing a project gives you a sense of accomplishment. Sharing the experience – I hope I can inspire all of you to do something wonderful.

Find out more about Michael Quinn here.

Read more Alumni Success Stories here.

Cirrus Above Thiksey

In the summer of 2013 I had the fortune of travelling to Ladakh, India, a remote Himalayan kingdom that is now far Northwestern India, bordered by Pakistani controlled Kasmir and Chinese controlled Tibet.  Ladakh’s high desert rises from valley floors at 12,000 feet to the mountain peaks at 20,000ft. Water from the Indus River is skillfully directed through lush fields then on to irrigate countless other valleys in India. The Ladakhis live in carefully organized communities of adobe homes where they maintain cattle and yak, pashmina goat herds, make mud bricks for export, hone their traditional crafts, keep cultural ways of life and practice an intense spirituality.  It is a place where monasteries seem to float above military bases and vast expanses that shimmer in the intense, clear light. Translated as “The Land of High Passes” Ladakh is a region of sunshine and snow, of dark temples and bright spirits.

I happened to meet fellow photographer Christopher Michel in Delhi when he was doing what he does best, photographing people with his happy-go-lucky-how-could-you-say-no direct approach.  We happened to have the same somewhat unusual camera and lens combo so I struck up a conversation.  Little did I know we would be traveling to the same place and often shooting standing shoulder to shoulder with several thousand other people.

Faster and Faster

One hundred and fifty thousand ethnic Tibetans were gathering in Ladakh for the ancient Kalachakra ceremony, a two thousand year old ten-day teaching given by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.  I went as a student of life, to see and experience with camera in hand but no specific assignment or shot list.  It was not easy.  The mid-summer heat of India was as hard on the equipment as it was on the attendees.  It was difficult to breathe, move, and photograph in the dust, smoke, heat and an international crowd of so many, packed into a tight space and hurrying over long distances to get there.  There were near mob-scene moments as well as times of great kindness that transcended language barriers.  The intense sun cast deep shadows in the desert while the traditional adobe architecture had dark interiors often only illuminated with butter lamps and a single strong shaft of light.  The experience was overwhelming and required great openness to each moment, the physical stamina to endure heat and altitude as well as the willingness to play well with others.  

Every extra moment from sunrise to starry night was spent exploring the stupa fields, monasteries, city of Leh and village life with friends met along the way.  Chris’ focus on the essence of each moment was an inspiration and his photographs reflect his incisive eye, whether the subject was people or place. During the two weeks in Ladakh we did not share work or even review our own images.  There was limited electricity for anything beyond charging batteries.  Several weeks later I happened to come across a blog article about Chris’ work in Ladakh and immediately suggested a collaborative show to benefit Tibetan culture at Tibet House US.  Fortunately Chris agreed to my out-of-the-blue request and the curator of Tibet House US, Zola Nyambuu, was happy with the show we proposed.  So began the coincidental collaboration of “Envisioning Ecstasy.”

The show has forty black and white photographic prints of landscape, portraits and details of Ladakh during the Kalachakra.  These range from arid desertscapes to lush irrigated fields reflecting the mountains.  There are images from the Kalachakra as well as incongruous graffiti overlooking the capitol city, Leh.  Curious camels, luminous nightscapes and the famously painted Indian trucks balance the spiritual iconography.  A traveling circus with a lotus-decorated ferris wheel loomed above the vast desert providing an unforgettable personal and photographic experience.

“Envisioning Ecstasy” also has a conceptual aspect in the form of eleven large-scale lumenographic prints based on illustration based photographs originally sketched during the Kalachakra.  Two projected animations bring these drawings to life and complete the show. The story behind many of the documentary images was captured in Chas Curtis’ keen videograpy.  Chas’ evocative timelapses and captivating clips from ceremony to circus were seamlessly edited into a luminous video interview by Kyle Ruddick. The video is a multi-media presentation of “Envisioning Ecstasy” and will be screened at the opening. The show is accompanied by a catalog, Envisioning Ecstasy and a clothbound book, 108 Visions : Ladakh During the Kalachakra, thoughtfully designed by Michael Motley, which offers glimpses of the journey from small details to sweeping vistas.  Books and print sales benefit Tibet House US, which brings the concept of collaboration full circle. 

CCrowell_ClearLightMind_425px copy

All of this work was greatly enhanced by John Paul and Seth’s dynamic duo Art of Processing and Art of Creativity. The workshops are an intense immersive experience for honing artistic vision, voice and direction.  And of course any workshop with JP and Seth is a lesson in that all important art of playing well with others, one of my favorite photographic mantras.  Photography is often seen as a solitary pursuit and though it has it’s quiet moments, communal creativity widens the collective perspective. This golden rule underpins the entire show of “Envisioning Ecstasy.” 

“Envisioning Ecstasy” opens at Tibet House US, New York, May 20 from 6-8pm and is on exhibit until June 26. Two publications will be released for the show: a catalog, “Envisioning Ecstasy,” and a hardcover book, 108 Visions: Ladakh During the Kalachakra.  Please contact Tibet House US regarding show information and books. 

Learn more about Envisioning Ecstacy on The Leica Blog.

Find out more about Cira Crowell here.

Read more Alumni Success Stories here.


In June 2015, Olaf will be co-teaching ‘Visual Conversations’, a creative photography workshop with Eileen McCarney Muldoon at Maine Media College in Rockport. They will also be running a LightDance workshop in Brooklyn in Sep 2015. 

Olaf Willoughby is a photographer, writer and researcher. He is co-founder of The Leica Meet, a Facebook page and website growing at warp speed to over 7,800 members. After conducting many interviews for the Leica Blog, Olaf was recently interviewed there too. Read his interview here.

Here, Olaf shares his thoughts on interviewing and being interviewed.

What Makes Photography Tock?

This was the question uppermost in my mind when I started interviewing photographers for The Leica Blog some time ago.

We’ve all worked on ideas which tick like a Swiss watch. They have a magic flow resonating with ourselves and others. But some don’t, they linger on that haunting to-do list and never quite get done. Why?

Photographers are often considered not to be the best judges of their own work, so asking a direct question was unlikely to be productive. I was wondering how to tackle this dilemma in my interviews when, luckily, I stumbled on this quote from Duane Michaels,

‘Photographers look too much. They have to start thinking and feeling and make that the source of their work. Don’t just look for curiosity’. (For more words of great wisdom check Sean Kernan’s interview with Duane Michaels here.)

I understood. It identified for me what I love about Michael Ackermann in ‘End Time City’and the shortcomings I see in my own work. Time and again I pressed the ‘thinking & feeling’button in my interviews and it always resulted in a deeper more engaging response.

So when the Leica Blog turned the tables and interviewed me on my ‘Leica in London’Street Photography project (link below) I felt well prepared. Yet initially I fell into the same trap. Rationality ruled. It was only when I let go of the left brain that I could articulate the bigger picture.

Seeing that I had sat on both sides of the interviewing table JP kindly suggested that I might like to share any learnings on his blog.

Working through the process from the questions, to pulling together the images and text and finally telling the story, here are three pointers emerging from my interviews which have helped me to show the work of others in the best light. I hope they work for you too.


Question the questions

Let’s start at the beginning. The fact that I (or anybody else) am asking the questions doesn’t mean they are the right or the best questions for you. If you have thought through your project then you’ll know the one or two critical points you want to get across. Sense check the questions to see if they  put the spotlight on these areas. If not, suggest changes or take advantage of the more generic questions to make your point. No apologies if this sounds ‘duh’, obvious. Apart from the big and experienced industry names, most photographers are honoured and excited to be interviewed. Often too excited to pinpoint how they think and feel about their project and whether the questions really search out the soul of their work.

Read more


“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.

collab 4

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.

collab 3

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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