Here’s a selection of my favorite quotes by photographer Paul Caponigro.
(My father has a lot to say about the creative process!)
“Photography is a medium, a language, through which I might come to experience directly, live more closely with, the interaction between myself and nature.” – Paul Caponigro
“I often see the materials of photography as being a type of terrain. Emulsions, liquid developers, silver salts, and fixers interact, and I construct a landscape that I need to first explore in my mind’s eye if I am to make it manifest as an artful image in silver.” – Paul Caponigro
“Photography’s potential as a great image-maker and communicator is really no different from the same potential in the best poetry where familiar, everyday words, placed within a special context, can soar above the intellect and touch subtle reality in a unique way.” – Paul Caponigro
“The key is to not let the camera, which depicts nature in so much detail, reveal just what the eye picks up, but what the heart picks up as well.” – Paul Caponigro
“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” – Paul Caponigro
“Some of my photographs have always been a mystery to me in terms of how I arrived at them. Even with the technical ability to produce fine prints, I am hard put to know how it happens, yet unless technique and materials are seriously investigated and experienced, I see that moving statements are seldom made. The process of photography ever invites me. I hope never to lose this feeling. At times I make photographs for the sheer magic of its process, and the good feeling about the very stuff needed: light, chemical combinations, some imperceptible forces at work behind the scene. I am part of the drama which takes the guise of photography.” – Paul Caponigro
“The influence of mystery is the greatest influence.” – Paul Caponigro
“Keep alive the fact that a mystery has come into existence and that a physical being serves as a house for this mystery.” – Paul Caponigro
“At the root of creativity is an impulse to understand, to make sense of random and often unrelated details. For me, photography provides an intersection of time, space, light, and emotional stance. One needs to be still enough, observant enough, and aware enough to recognize the life of the materials, to be able to ‘hear through the eyes.” – Paul Caponigro
“… the effort, diligence, and care required in practicing must be quickly suspended when pressure coming from anxiety or a desire for fast results causes them to degenerate.” – Paul Caponigro
“Under all of the factors that make up the art world, it’s up to the individual artist to discern which of those influences are present and at what time and what really serves the deeper process that is constantly running like a stream underground. Influence is incessant. Influence is a fact. But, carry a big shovel and dig constantly to clear away all the unessentials so that the origins of mystery and the poetic force of life can get into and inspire the work.” – Paul Caponigro
“Photography attracted me before I ever knew that it was a part of a structured world. I saw a camera which my grandmother wielded. I thought it was fascinating. I didn’t know about famous artists and museums and magazines. I innocently met that process. And I excitedly engaged it to the best of my ability. Later, because my excitement was so strong, I realized that this could be a medium through which I could work. Then I had to meet the whole world of photography; manufacturers, materials, hype, galleries, dealers, critics, etc. Somehow I did not lose sight of that initial innocence. I realized that unless I could stay free, unidentified, unless I could keep my personality from going crazy with the adulation or the lack of it I was not going to maintain that innocence. I realized that the innocence was the important state that called forth the inspiration into the process.” – Paul Caponigro
“The only way a work of art can become great is for one to acknowledge that it doesn’t belong to anybody. The greatness is in constantly giving back, coming to an acknowledgment of the source. Look back to the source of any individual, any process, any set of materials. If the individual personality can relinquish its insistence on concepts like “this is mine”, “I did it”, “this is original”, “nobody else has done it”, it goes straight for greatness or the essential spirit.” – Paul Caponigro
“If you are engaging rationality, you are already engaging a place that makes you unavailable. Only when I recognize that inspiration has announced itself to my availability will I then say I need to use my mind to calculate exposure, my emotions to position myself and arrange a configuration of shapes that need to come into being, my body to put it all in place because we have been given a message and it has come through inspiration through being available.’ – Paul Caponigro
“Being available is very important. I’ve spent a lot of time working in the British Isles at so called pre-historic sacred sites. I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to go there and force a composition or extract any kind of typicality to make pictures which were expected by the audience within the world of photography. I could have been quite clever and made very pleasing pictures. But I was affected by being available to those sites a few times. When I dropped all those concerns, mentally, emotionally, physically, I was available. I was free in those areas. I didn’t think, “I’ve got to get the ultimate in composition today.” or “I’ve got to get the ultimate in light, I’ll stay here until it appears.” I was not making any demands. I went purely to see what would come, what might be there. I didn’t have to be archaeologist or historian or tourist, I just needed to be available.” – Paul Caponigro
“As far as my experience goes one is automatically in touch with the higher spiritual, it is connected to a certain level that interpenetrates our total physical and psychic existence. We are always in touch with it.” – Paul Caponigro
“Can you keep your balance? Can you see what and where you are at any given moment?” – Paul Caponigro
“I use my music to tune myself.” – Paul Caponigro
“Seek freedom within action.” – Paul Caponigro
“Work incessantly, cultivate discrimination, gather freedom from your own hard-earned results. Disregard successes but go back for help in an immediate problem. The possibility of discovery is everywhere. Freedom from your own work allows for intuition that draws from all your experience and perception but goes beyond it.” – Paul Caponigro
“All that I have achieved are these dreams locked in silver.” – Paul Caponigro
David duChemin is a world & humanitarian assignment photographer, best-selling author, digital publisher, and international workshop leader whose nomadic and adventurous life fuels his fire to create and share. Based in Vancouver, Canada, when he’s home, David leads a nomadic life chasing compelling images on all 7 continents.
When on assignment David creates powerful images that convey the hope and dignity of children, the vulnerable and oppressed for the international NGO community. When creating the art he so passionately shares, David strives to capture the beauty of the natural world.
David duChemin provides quick candid answers to a variety of questions.
What’s the best thing about photography?
The best thing about photography is the gift of seeing – really seeing – the moments in life that otherwise pass so quickly. It’s the elevation of what we normally see as mundane, or perhaps not the elevation of it so much as the recognition that it was beautiful to begin with.
What’s the worst thing about photography?
Like any storytelling medium or art, it’s easy to fall more in love with how we tell the stories than the stories themselves. I think photographers have an unusual relationship with their gear, one that can be beautifully collaborative or strangely incestuous.
What’s the thing that interests you most about other people’s photographs?
I like to see through the eyes of others, to see what I have not. I’m a very curious person and this gives me a glimpse into a world in ways I’ve not considered it.
Who were your early photographic influences?
My earliest were portraitists, like …
July 19, 2013 | Leave a Comment
When Seth Resnick and I started Digital Photo Destinations workshops, many people thought we were an unlikely combination. His mode of photography is active and mine’s contemplative. He photographs everything; I focus on specific things. He’s all about workflow and releases thousands of images a year for stock agencies. I’m all about print quality and release fewer than a hundred images a year for exhibition. We find our differences extremely stimulating. We encourage each other to try new things and our contrasts provide new clarity about our individual natures. Our collaborations are fueling new personal growth for both of us – and for our participants. Our adventures take us to amazing places – Antarctica, Argentina, Greenland, Iceland, Namibia and more – to do some amazing things; glacier walks in ice caves before watching auroras, helicopter rides over volcanoes, zodiac rides through ice fields, hiking the world’s largest dunes … what will be next? On the personal front, we laugh (and so do others) because we’re so similar we can often finish each other’s sentences. The most stimulating relationships are born when there’s something shared and something different. This combination stimulates growth in both individuals. Imagine who that person could be for you.
We just wrote a piece for B&H on the many benefits of sharing photographic experiences.
July 7, 2013 | 1 Comment
My TED and Google talks have a lot in common. Both discuss creativity as a dynamic process that we all engage in with our own unique orientations to. While there are classic operations we all perform, how we combine them and the uses we put them to. Experimentation and becoming more versatile is the key to turbo-charging your creative life. You’ll find dozens of tips and lots of inspiration in both of these talks.
I spoke about the creative process at Google headquarters a few weeks ago.
I began with the stories behind a few of the photographs I’ve made that have changed the way I think and see.
Then I talked about game changing advances in technology that have expanded the ways I see and changed the way I make photographs.
And I spoke about how using other media (like drawing and writing) can enhance perception and the photographs we make.
Distilled into one line … How an artist gets there influences where they arrive.
Sepia Town lets you view and share thousands of mapped historical images from around the globe.
You can even upload your own vintage images and share your history.
June 17, 2013 | Leave a Comment
John Sexton shares insights from his distinguished career in black and white photography.
How artists get there is just as important as where they arrive. My new ebook Process examines many aspects of my creative process – writing, drawing, painting, photography, Photoshop, iphoneography and more. Thirty-three chapters are organized into five sections – Color, Composition, Draw, iPhone, Write – showing how each discipline contributes to the completion of finished works of art.
This ebook reveals that an artist’s creations are produced by not one but many activities in many media and that the creative process is a never-ending journey of discovery that offers surprising insights along the way.
192 pages fully illustrated
$9.99 for Insights enews members.
(Email firstname.lastname@example.org for discount code.)
Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on photography.
“Photography is the power of observation, not the application of technology.” – Ken Rockwell
“The photographic image … is a message without a code.” – Roland Barthes
“Every photograph is a battle of form versus content. The good ones are on the border of failure.” – Garry Winogrand
“There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept.” -Ansel Adams
“When you put four edges around some facts (photographs), you change those facts.” – Garry Winogrand
“The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.” – William Thackeray
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” - Aaron Siskind
“To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.” – Ansel Adams
“While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.” – Dorothea Lange
“Photography is a major force in explaining man to man” – Edward Steichen
“Your photography is a record of your living” – Paul Strand
“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams
“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”- Ernst Haas
“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” – Robert Capa
“There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.” – Robert Heinecken
“It is the photo that takes you. One must not take photos.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
“Photographers deal in things which are continuously vanishing…” – Henri Cartier Bresson
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” – Dorothea Lange
“It is the artist who is truthful and it is photography which lies, for in reality time does not stop …” – Auguste Rodin
“Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.” – Jean-Luc Godard
“People say photographs don’t lie, mine do.” – David LaChapelle
“Photography is just light remembering itself.” – Jerry Uelsmann
“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman
January 31, 2013 | Leave a Comment
In this episode of Real Exposures, David Brommer and I speak about a variety of topics including the value of photography workshops, harnessing creativity, and integrating spirituality in your work.
View my presentations Process & Game Changers in the B&H Event Space here.« go back — keep looking »
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