The Top 20 Photography Books That Influenced Me

Influential Books of John Paul Caponigro

“Enjoy this collection of photographic books that have influenced me during some of my most formative years.”

– John Paul Caponigro

Find out more about my influences here.

Megaliths by Paul Caponigro

#1

Paul Caponigro’s Megaliths.

Watching the production of this project from start to finish had a profound effect on me. The book was the culmination of decades of work on so many levels.

Alfred Stieglitz

#2

Alfred Stieglitz Portrait Of Georgia O’Keefe.

These portraits and nudes set the highest standards for me. Deep complex emotional connection. The variety of Stieglitz’ printing was eye opening. Meeting O’Keefe was interesting; I still wonder what it was like for her as an older woman to produce a book on her younger self.

Eliot Porter's Nature's Chaos

#3

Eliot Porter’s Nature’s Chaos.

Fortunate to see my mother design many of Porter’s books, this one confirmed my feeling that he saw a deeper order in nature before we more fully understood complexity in the sciences.

Christopher Burkett's Intimations Of Paradise

#4

Christopher Burkett’s Intimations Of Paradise.

Formerly a Gnostic monk, Burkett renounced his vows of poverty so that he could afford film and continue to faithfully transcribe The Book Of Nature. There are so many ways to live life in a sacred way

Dune / Edward Weston And Brett Weston

#5

Dune / Edward Weston And Brett Weston collects works, many never before printed, by father and son showing how similar and how different each artist’s vision was. Working with Kurt Markus to produce this book was eye-opening.

Ansel Adams / The Making Of 40 Photographs

#6

Ansel Adams / The Making Of 40 Photographs.

It’s wonderful to read how an artist works and even better to see them in action; I was lucky to do both. I do wish Adams wrote more about why he made each image and what it meant to him.

Jerry Uelsmann's Process & Perception

#7

Jerry Uelsmann’s Process & Perception.

It demonstrates how process changes perception – and the process you engage is a personal choice. The inside is just as important as the outside.

Edward Burtynsky's Manufactured Landscapes

#7

Edward Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes.

While Eliot Porter didn’t want to beautify trash through art Burtynsky turns an unflinching eye towards industrial impacts on land crafting a complex statement on land use and ultimately identity.

Minor White Manifestations Of The Spirit

#8

Minor White Manifestations Of The Spirit.

No other photographer is as articulate about the inner experience of making art. His essay in equivalence is seminal.

Wynn Bullock's Revelations

#9

Wynn Bullock’s Revelations.

Bullock’s marriage of science/physics and art
became as much a philosophical statement as a celebration of beauty.

Kenro Izu's Sacred Places

#10

Kenro Izu’s Sacred Places.

Izu tries to photograph the spirit of ancient sacred places. When he talks about atmosphere he means more than weather.

Chris Rainier's Keepers Of The Spirit

#11

Chris Rainier’s Keepers Of The Spirit.

If Edward Curtis met Joseph Campbell you’d get Rainier’s survey of spirituality in world cultures.

Sebastiao Salgado's An Uncertain Grace

#12

Sebastiao Salgado’s An Uncertain Grace.

Salgado sets the bar high by bringing out the dignity within his subjects no matter how undignified their circumstances.

oyce Tenneson's Transformations

#13

Joyce Tenneson’s Transformations.

Tenneson’s images remind me of what Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Arnold Newman's One Mind's Eye

#14

Arnold Newman’s One Mind’s Eye

Beautifully constructed portraits from the father of environmental portraiture.

Harry Callahan

#15

Harry Callahan

The rest of his wrestlessly inventive work intrigued me but his deeply honest extended portrait of his wife set a standard I hope for in all others.

Sugimoto

#16

Sugimoto

It’s minimalism that isnt shallow or evasive; the collection reinforces the concept, creating a context for itself. It asks so many questions? Enough? Not enough? Do all the world’s oceans look the same? Or is it just one ocean? Is it the camera or the artist who makes them look the same? Is it the way we look? How is it that by looking at them long enough I begin to see myself?

 Richard Misrach's The Sky Book

#17

Richard Misrach’s The Sky Book

Pleasant as it is this minimalism ordinarily wouldn’t be enough for me. But then he adds the titles of time and places in many languages with a history. Together they grow stronger and placed within his life work as one of many Desert Cantos they grow stringer still. Rebecca Solnit’s accompanying essay is excellent. I learned a lot from looking at this – about art and myself.

Witkin

#18

Witkin

I find Joel Peter Witkin’s work profoundly challenging. I can’t say I love it; I can’t say I hate it. I can say it continually crosses back and forth between self-indulgently expressing his individual perversions and courageously looking unflinchingly into a universal heart of darkness.

Michael Kenna's Night Work

#19

Michael Kenna’s Night Work

Kenna’s elegant minimalism is laced with a quiet spirituality that comes less from tradition and more from being in the moment, growing most emotional when he’s in the dark.

Huntington Witherill's Orchestrating Icons

#20

Huntington Witherill’s Orchestrating Icons

It’s musical for its flowing compositions and exquisite tonalities. Extraordinary separation in extreme highlights and shadows, no one prints quite like him in.

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For more reading material, go to:

http://johnpaulcaponigro.com/creativity/reading/

28 Great Quotes On Mastery

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“Practice creates the master.” – Miguel Ruiz
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” — Benjamin Franklin
“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” – Albert Einstein
“Mastering music is more than learning technical skills. Practicing is about quality, not quantity.”- Yo-Yo Ma
“Though you can love what you do not master, you cannot master what you do not love.” – Mokokoma Mokhonoana
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41 Great Quotes On Context

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Enjoy this collection of quotes on Context.
“For me context is the key – from that comes the understanding of everything.” – Kenneth Noland
“Making mental connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence; to forge links; to go beyond the given; to see patterns, relationships, context” – Marilyn Ferguson
“Critics have a responsibility to put things in a cultural and sociological or political context. That is important.” – Annette Bening
“What we have to do is put this in a coherent form for them at the end of the day, and on the big events, give them the kind of context that they deserve.” – Tom Brokaw
“I do not fear truth. I welcome it. But I wish all of my facts to be in their proper context.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
“Disinformation is most effective in a very narrow context.” – Frank Snepp
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44 Great Quotes On Talent

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Enjoy this collection of quotes on Talent.
“Talent is nothing but a prolonged period of attention and a shortened period of mental assimilation.” – Konstantin Stanislavsky
“I believe that every person is born with talent.” – Maya Angelou
“Talent is an accident of genes – and a responsibility.” – Alan Rickman
“Hide not your talents, they for use were made, What’s a sundial in the shade?” ― Benjamin Franklin
“Whether or not you discover your talents and passions is partly a matter of opportunity. If you’ve never been sailing, or picked up an instrument, or tried to teach or to write fiction, how would you know if you had a talent for these things?” – Ken Robinson
“Self-doubt kills talent.” – Edie McClurg
“Talent is a wonderful thing, but it won’t carry a quitter.” – Stephen King
“At first I wasn’t sure that I had the talent, but I did know I had a fear of failure, and that fear compelled me to fight off anything that might abet it.” – Gordon Parks
“The greatest talents often lie buried out of sight.” – Plautus
“This is how I define talent; it is a gift that God has given us in secret, which we reveal without knowing it.” – Montesquieu
“I built my talents on the shoulders of someone else’s talent.” – Michael Jordan
“The best way to get more talents is to improve the talents we have.” – Edward Bickersteth
“Some people possess talent, others are possessed by it. When that happens, a talent becomes a curse.” – Rod Serling
“Sometimes, indeed, there is such a discrepancy between the genius and his human qualities that one has to ask oneself whether a little less talent might not have been better.” – Carl Jung
“The real issue is not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire, and persistence. Talent without these things vanishes and even modest talent with those characteristics grows.” – Milton Glaser
“Ordinary people think that talent must be always on its own level and that it arises every morning like the sun, rested and refreshed, ready to draw from the same storehouse — always open, always full, always abundant — new treasures that it will heap up on those of the day before; such people are unaware that, as in the case of all mortal things, talent has its increase and decrease, and that independently of the career it takes, like everything that breathes… it undergoes all the accidents of health, of sickness, and of the dispositions of the soul — its gaiety or its sadness. As with our perishable flesh. talent is obliged constantly to keep guard over itself, to combat, and to keep perpetually on the alert amid the obstacles that witness the exercise of its singular power.” – Eugène Delacroix
“It takes little talent to see clearly what lies under one’s nose, a good deal of it to know in which direction to point that organ.” – W. H. Auden
“One thing I’ve learned is that I’m not the owner of my talent; I’m the manager of it.” – Madonna Ciccone
“There is no such thing as a great talent without great will power.” – Honore de Balzac
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King
“Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your natural talent, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it: work.” – Jack Nicklaus
“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“Hard work pays off – hard work beats talent any day, but if you’re talented and work hard, it’s hard to be beat.” – Robert Griffin III
“Effort without talent is a depressing situation… but talent without effort is a tragedy.’ – Mike Ditka
“Men fail much oftener from want of perseverance than from want of talent.” – William Cobbett
“Talent alone won’t make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: ‘Are your ready?’” – Johnny Carson
“We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. But it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.” – Eric Hoffer
“There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long, and the great charm of all power is modesty.” – Louisa May Alcott
“Talent is always conscious of its own abundance, and does not object to sharing.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Genius is talent set on fire by courage.” – Henry Van Dyke
“Talent is a flame. Genius is a fire.” – Bernard Williams
“Talent does what it can; genius does what it must.” – Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
“Talent does whatever it wants to do. Genius does only what it can.” – Eugene Delacroix
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
“Genius gives birth, talent delivers.” – Jack Kerouac
“Talent for talent’s sake is a bauble and a show. Talent working with joy in the cause of universal truth lifts the possessor to new power as a benefactor.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” – Erica Jong
“If a man has talent and can’t use it, he’s failed. If he uses only half of it, he has partly failed. If he uses the whole of it, he has succeeded, and won a satisfaction and triumph few men ever know.” – Thomas Wolfe
“I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” – J. K. Rowling
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck
“Your talent is God’s gift to you; what you do with it is your gift to God.” – Leo Buscaglia
“Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent.” – Marlon Brando
“Success is what you do with your ability. It’s how you use your talent.” – George Allen, Sr.
“One needs more than ambition and talent to make a success of anything, really. There must be love and a vocation.” – Jessye Norman
“A really great talent finds its happiness in execution.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“If you’ve got a talent, protect it.” – Jim Carrey
Explore The Essential Collection Of Creativity Quotes here.
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25 Great Quotes On Visualization

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Enjoy this collection of quotes on visualization.
“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.” – Bo Bennett
“Visualization and belief in a pattern of reality activates the creative power of realization.” – A. L. Linall, Jr.
“Try out your ideas by visualizing them in action.” – David Seabury
“Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.” – Robert Collier
“Having a mental snapshot of where you are, where you are going, and what you are moving toward is incredibly powerful.” – Sara Blakely
“The harder you work… and visualize something, the luckier you get.” – Seal
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9 Great Quotes On Being In Sync

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Enjoy this collection of quotes on being in sync.
“Tidal rhythms have an effect on our physiology…. When we feel out of sorts, our body is out of sync with the body of the Universe. Spending time near the ocean, or anywhere in nature, can help us to synchronize our rhythms with nature’s rhythms.” –
Deepak Chopra
“Sometimes you are in sync with the times, sometimes you are in advance, sometimes you are late.” – Bernardo Bertolucci
“Be out of sync with your times for just one day, and you will see how much eternity you contain within you.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
“When mind and action are separate, zen is lost. We keep the two in sync by paying attention.” – Philip Toshio Sudo
“There’s something about the rhythm of walking, how, after about an hour and a half, the mind and body can’t help getting in sync.” – Bjork
“Part of the joy of looking at art is getting in sync in some ways with the decision-making process that the artist used and the record that’s embedded in the work.” – Chuck Close
“It happens so quickly it seems like it’s coming from somewhere else. It’s not It just means that you’re in sync with yourself. And whatever your goal is, in terms of hearing a melody or a lyric, the closer you get to it, the faster it comes out and the easier it is to “spit it out”, as it were.” – Harry Nilsson
“Dream big, as long as you do it in sync with your truth, with your heart, your brain. And you are not hurting anybody, go ahead and do it.” – Angelique Kidjo
“I feel that all you can do is give it your absolute best with whatever gifts the universe has given you. And if you make it in some way that other people can recognize, that’s fine. But even if you don’t quote-unquote make it, you’re fine, if you’ve given it your whole heart and soul. You’re totally in sync with your purpose and with the universe. And that’s fine.” – Alice Walker
Explore The Essential Collection Of Creativity Quotes here.
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View The Essential Collection Of Creativity Videos here.

22 Great Quotes By Duane Michals

 
Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Duane Michals.
“Trust that little voice in your head that says ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if…’; And then do it.” – Duane Michals
“Don’t try to be an artist. Find the thing within you that needs to be expressed. You might find it is art.” – Duane Michals
“I am an expressionist and by that I mean that I’m not a photographer or a writer or a painter or a tap dancer, but rather someone who expresses himself according to his needs.” – Duane Michals
“People believe in the reality of photographs, but not in the reality of paintings. That gives photographers an enormous advantage. Unfortunately, photographers also believe in the reality of photographs.” – Duane Michals
“Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be.” – Duane Michals
“I never photograph sunsets and I never photograph moonrises. I’m not interested in what things look like.” – Duane Michals
“You can never capture a person in picture, never. You might get an interesting expression or gesture. I almost never research a picture subject ahead of time. I think Karsh is full of baloney. Can you imagine spending a whole week out in La Jolla with Jonas Salk soaking up his ambiance, then wind up making him look as if he’s in the studio in Ottawa with his thumb under his chin?” – Duane Michals
“Because of my involvement with my photographs, it is difficult for me really to see them objectively. Talking about them is like talking about myself. The only real idea that I have about them is that they are essentially snapshots. For snapshots, I feel, often have an inherent simplicity and directness that I find beautiful. The roots of my photographs are in this tradition.” – Duane Michals
“However, I think that the photographer must completely control his picture and bring to it all his personality, and in this area most photographs never transcend being just snapshots. When a great photographer does infuse the snapshot with his personality and vision, it can be transformed into something truly moving and beautiful.” – Duane Michals
“The best part of us is not what we see, it’s what we feel. We are what we feel. We are not what we look at . . .. We’re not our eyeballs, we’re our mind. People believe their eyeballs and they’re totally wrong . . .. That’s why I consider most photographs extremely boring–just like Muzak, inoffensive, charming, another waterfall, another sunset. This time, colors have been added to protect the innocent. It’s just boring. But that whole arena of one’s experience–grief, loneliness–how do you photograph lust? I mean, how do you deal with these things? This is what you are, not what you see. It’s all sitting up here. I could do all my work sitting in my room. I don’t have to go anywhere.” – Duane Michals
“I write in order to express what the photo itself cannot say. A photograph of my father doesn’t tell me what I thought of him, which for me is much more important than what the man looked like.” – Duane Michals
“Photography does deal with ‘truth’ or a kind of superficial reality better than any of the other arts, but it never questions the nature of reality – it simply reproduces reality. And what good is that when the things of real value in life are invisible?” – Duane Michals
“I believe in the invisible. I do not believe in the definitive reality of things around us. For me, reality is the intuition and the imagination and the quiet voice inside my head that says: isn’t that extraordinary? The things in our lives are the shadows of reality, just as we ourselves are shadows.” – Duane Michals
“Photographers tend not to photograph what they can’t see, which is the very reason one should try to attempt it. Otherwise we’re going to go on forever just photographing more faces and more rooms and more places. Photography has to transcend description. It has to go beyond description to bring insight into the subject, or reveal the subject, not as it looks, but how does it feel?” – Duane Michals
“I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see.” – Duane Michals
“Photography is essentially an act of recognition by street photographers, not an act of invention. Photographers might respond to an old man’s face, or an Arbus freak, or the way light hits a building—and then they move on. Whereas in all the other art forms, take William Blake, everything that came to that paper never existed before. It’s the idea of alchemy, of making something from nothing.” – Duane Michals
“I use photography to help me explain my experiences to myself.” – Duane Michals
“I think photographs should be provocative and not tell you what you already know. It takes no great powers or magic to reproduce somebody’s face in a photograph. The magic is in seeing people in new ways.” – Duane Michals
Duane Michals
“I am a reflection photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing.” – Duane Michals
“All good work has magic in it, and addresses the mind in a subtle way.” – Duane Michals
“Art is really whispering, not shouting.” – Duane Michals
“My gift to you is that I am different.” – Duane Michals
View 12 Great Photographs By Duane Michals.
Watch Duane Michals talk about his art.

22 Quotes On Flow

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Enjoy this collection of quotes on the state of flow.
“Let’s make things exist and then judge later. Don’t cancel the process of creativity too early: Let it flow.” – Ross Lovegrove
“One of my teachers once said that the way you know you’re on the right path is that it works. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t run into blocks and brick walls, but it does mean that you can find a way around them or find a way to change yourself or your project in order to find the flow again and have it work.” – James Redfield
“I live my life on self-believe and I live it partly on going with the flow.” – Melanie Brown
“Life is so much easier when I allow myself to be myself and go with the flow. Whatever that looks like on a given day. If I can get quiet enough to truly check in with myself, I usually end up on the right track.” – Taylor Schilling
“The most important part of life is work, it’s the flow, it’s getting stuff done, feeling like you’re doing something.” – Penn Jillette
“My hand does the work and I don’t have to think. In fact, were I to think, it would stop the flow. It’s like a dam in the brain that bursts.” – Edna O’Brien
“Thoughts create a new heaven, a new firmament, a new source of energy, from which new arts flow.” – Paracelsus
“The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited. All you have to do is tap into that well.” – Jack Welch
“The self expands through acts of self-forgetfulness.” – Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
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