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Titian inspired Manet

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Manet inspired Gaugin

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Manet inspired Monet

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Van Gogh inspired Hockney

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Van Gogh inspired Lichtenstein

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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.

_

For more reading material, go to:

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

Quotes_Influence

Here’s a selection of my favorite quotes on influence.

“People exercise an unconscious selection in being influenced.” – T. S. Eliot

“To be realistic one must always admit the influence of those who have gone before.” – Charles Eames

“The superior artist is the one who knows how to be influenced.” – Clement Greenberg

“Every art, like our own, has in its composition fluctuating as well as fixed principles. It is an attentive inquiry into their difference that will enable us to determine how far we are influenced by custom and habit, and what is fixed in the nature of things.” – Sir Joshua Reynolds

“A young painter who cannot liberate himself from the influence of past generations is digging his own grave.” – Henri Matisse

“Picasso once remarked, ‘I do not care who it is that has or does influence me as long as it is not myself.’” – Gertrude Stein

“I am not influenced by the techniques or fashions of any other motion picture company.” – Walt Disney

“I don’t believe in learning from other people’s pictures. I think you should learn from your own interior vision of things and discover, as I say, innocently, as though there had never been anybody.” – Orson Welles

“The only real influence I’ve ever had was myself.” – Edward Hopper

“Add new painters to your list of favorites all the time.” – Irwin Greenberg

“We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” – Goethe

“The strongest influences in my life and my work are always whomever I love. Whomever I love and am with most of the time, or whomever I remember most vividly. I think that’s true of everyone, don’t you?” – Tennessee Williams

“We don’t make a photograph just with a camera, we bring to the act of photography all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard, the people we have loved.” – Ansel Adams

“There are so many moments and works that influence us in what we do. Movies, music, TV and, most importantly, the profound everydayness of our lives.” – Barbara Kruger

“The influences may be subliminal and subtle but all that surrounds us in some way changes how we see things and who we are.” – Martine Gourbault

“Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.” – Walt Disney

“Advertising reflects the mores of society, but it does not influence them.” – David Ogilvy

“The only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.” – E. M. Forster

“I have been influenced by paintings I have seen in books, and in museums, not because they defined success but because they suggested possibilities.” – Eleanor Blair

“There is a boundary to men’s passions when they act from feelings; but none when they are under the influence of imagination.” – Edmund Burke

“Every thought which genius and piety throw into the world alters the world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Ideas are the mightiest influence on earth. One great thought breathed into a man may regenerate him.” – William Ellery Channing

“The influential man is the successful man, whether he be rich or poor.” – Orison Swett Marden

“When it comes to developing character strength, inner security and unique personal and interpersonal talents and skills in a child, no institution can or ever will compare with, or effectively substitute for, the home’s potential for positive influence.” – Stephen Covey

“The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“You don’t have to be a ‘person of influence’ to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” – Scott Adams

“There is no pebble so small that it won’t make ripples when tossed into a body of water.” – Charles Peck

“Any one of us can be a rainbow in somebody’s clouds.” – Maya Angelou

“And as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same.” – Marianne Williamson

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napoleon Hill

“It takes tremendous discipline to control the influence, the power you have over other people’s lives.” – Clint Eastwood

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Adams

“The influence of each human being on others in this life is a kind of immortality.” – Winston Churchill

“Be around the people you want to be like, because you will be like the people you are around.” – Sean Reichle

“Be around people who have something of value to share with you. Their impact will continue to have a significant influence.” – Jim Rohn

“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.” ― Stephen King

“It would be difficult to exaggerate the degree to which we are influenced by those we influence.” – Eric Hoffer

“Influence is to be measured, not by the extent of surface it covers, but by its kind.” – William Ellery Channing

“The most powerful moral influence is example.” – Huston Smith

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” – Albert Einstein

“There is no influence like the influence of habit.” – Gilbert Parker

“Affluence means influence.” – Jack London

“A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

“Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” – Bertrand Russell

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The time has come for all evangelists to practice full financial disclosure. The world is watching how we walk and how we talk. We must have the highest standards of morality, ethics and integrity if we are to continue to have influence.” – Billy Graham

“The most hateful human misfortune is for a wise man to have no influence.” – Herodotus

“I hold that a strongly marked personality can influence descendants for generations.” ― Beatrix Potter

“The purpose of influence is to “speak up for those who have no influence.” ― Rick Warren

“Once you’ve found your own voice, the choice to expand your influence, to increase your contribution, is the choice to inspire others to find their voice. Inspire (from the Latin inspirare) means to breathe life into another. As we recognize, respect and create ways for others to give voice to all four parts of their nature–physically, mentally, emotionally/socially, spiritually–latent human genius, creativity, passion, talent and motivation are unleashed. It will be those organizations that reach a critical mass of people and teams expressing their full voice that will achieve next-level breakthrough in productivity, innovation and leadership in the market place and society.” – Stephen Covey

Read more Creativity Quotes here.

View more Creativity Videos here.

Suffusion I, Palm Beach, Florida 2001

Sometimes ideas just seem to come out of nowhere. But do they?

We have so many experiences everyday, whether commonplace and routine or extraordinary and novel, it’s hard to say what registers as significant or even important. We’re influenced by so many things – our history, environment, community, actions, etc – that it’s hard to know when one thing leads to another. Often we refashion these materials, sometimes combining them, into something new, so when the resurface it’s not easy to recognize where they came from. What do we connect with? When do we connect with it? Do we know when it happens? Only if we’re mindful.

Awareness of what influences us is something that we can develop. To do this we need to develop a greater sensitivity to our environment and history in it (both personal and cultural) as well as to our actions and attitudes in relation to the activities and tone of our communities. Inquisitiveness is all you need. Ask a lot of questions. Don’t assume you know the answers. Don’t judge yourself or the answers you find along the way. Just collect information. By becoming aware of your influences you’ll be less controlled by them, see more options, and so have more and make clearer choices. Journalling can be an excellent way to develop this discipline and to reflect further on your influences while you’re making new or reviewing old entries. Once you experience the many benefits awareness of your influences brings, you’ll want to cultivate this habit. It can be a source of clarity, of personal insight, and even of purpose. Time and time again, this has been true for me.

Sometimes the insights awareness brings are surprising. One day, after Suffusion I had been hanging on my studio wall for months, I moved a snapshot of my grandmother’s ashes in the ocean (I had been unable to attend her funeral so I kept the photograph my father brought me close for a time.) across my studio. As soon as I saw the two images simultaneously in my field of vision the similarities and connections between them became clear. Since I made it, I had been trying to understand Suffusion I better. I knew some of the undercurrents at work in it; growing concerns about climate change and global warming; the ever-changing nature of existence and perception; watching smoke as a form of meditation; using smoke as a form of prayer. But I hadn’t guessed that it had anything to do with death and cremation. It would be a mistake to say this image – and the other images like it in this series – was about death. It/they are about much, much more. That’s part of what makes them so good. They’re complex.

You might be tempted to say that the influences were simple. The environmental and temporal factors were obvious. A good friend (Timothy Morrissey) had shown me how he photographed smoke and mist in his studio and I made exposures with him. The next day we went fishing and I made more exposures. Much later, I combined images from the two days. But that wouldn’t have explained why I chose to do this; I could have chosen one of thousands of other exposures from other years. Nor would that explain that I liked the results enough to print, frame, and exhibit the results. There was more going on in this image than first met the eye. I knew this, which is why I was still curious about it – and it probably has something to do with why others are curious about it too. I’m still curious. Our best work gets ahead of us and it takes time to catch up to it. Sometimes it continues to reward us for years to come – or even a lifetime.

Questions

How many things influence you?

How many things can you do to increase your awareness of what influences you?

What are the best ways to track your influences?

What benefits do you find from looking back on how your influences develop, flow, and grow?

Can you use the insights about your past reactions to inspire new actions?

How many ways can you proactively influence your influences?

Find out more about this image here.

View more related images here.

Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.

Read more about Influences here.

It helps you to both better understand and to more effectively communicate the nature of your influences if you take the time to state it simply. Usually, this doesn’t just happen instantly. First, it takes identifying who or what the influence is. Next, it takes a series of thoughts and associations. Then, it takes a little organization. Finally, it takes a little editing; cutting the words that aren’t quite right and searching for the ones that are.

Very often the connections between ideas and feelings and their progressions aren’t clear until you start organizing them. Finding these insights is the biggest benefit of taking time to reflect on your influences. (To do this, nothing helps me more than writing. Often, it’s not the kind of writing that I might share publicly; sometimes notes, outlines, and unfinished sentences are more effective. The goal of this kind of writing is discovery and clarity not publication.)

When you’re exploring your influences ask yourself questions. Questions guide explorations away from unprofitable areas and into useful territories. Questions reenergize and sustain processes of discovery. Ask yourself a few of these questions. What is the root of the influence? Is it physical? Is it intellectual? Is it emotional? If it’s many things at once, what is and what is the relative weight of each of those things? Does one influence share elements or qualities with other influences?

Try to state the nature of an influence in one sentence.

And try to state the nature of an influence in one phrase or one word.

Simplicity has many advantages. For instance, simple things are easier to remember and easier to share. Never confuse simple-mindedness with simplicity. Simplicity often represents the height of sophistication, arrived at only after some if not considerable effort and practice. If you can present a complex subject in a simple way without sacrificing essential content, you truly understand it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why simple solutions are so elegant.

At first it might seem strange to generate a lot of information only to boil it down to a little but if you try it you’ll find that the insights you’re left with will be extremely concentrated. Writers, musicians, and photographers all do this at one or more points in their creative process. Try it when you consider your influences. You’ll understand them better – and your own works too.

Here’s a simple distillation of one of my influences stated in one sentence and one word.

Joel Peter Witkin explores taboo, which sensationally gives a rise that quickly fades, and darkness (not necessarily evil), which disturbs and awakens indefinitely.

Shock

Read Why Tracking Your Influences Is So Important here.

Read Ranking Your Influences here.

Find out more about my influences here.

 

You can learn more about your influences by identifying their relative strengths. This quick exercise will not only help you understand how different works influence you but also begin to reveal why the influence you. It’s time well spent.

Make a ranked sorted list of your influences. Start by listing your influences, in any order that they come to mind. Then, arrange them, placing the strongest influence at the top of your list, the next strongest influences below it, and so on until the end of your list.

While some choices will come easily, others won’t. To help you make these choices, assign a number to each item on your list to determine its rank. (Use a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest.) Then arrange the items on your list from the highest number to the lowest. After you see the results, you may need to adjust your list by reranking/moving specific items.

It’s highly likely that you’ll find different artist’s work are influential to you for different reasons. Identifying how these works are influential to you can help you understand them even better. Rank each item on your list numerically based on three criteria – content (the ideas behind the work), form (style or how the work looks), and feeling (the strength of your emotional reactions to the work) – assigning a number from 1-10 for each criteria. At the same time, you can also create a cumulative or average score for each item. Now you’ll have four ways to sort your list or four new ways to compare and contrast your influences.

You may find patterns in the data that you’ve created that reveal something that wasn’t obvious before. You may find that a particular influence is significantly stronger in one criteria than the others; you like this artist’s work because of their … You may even find that a majority of your influences influence you more in one criteria than the others; you like artists who emphasize … The act of assigning numbers will encourage you to make distinctions in degree and quality that it’s very likely you hadn’t made before.

It’s quite likely that your ranked/sorted list of influences won’t be 100% accurate. By using criteria you become a little more objective. But influence isn’t entirely objective. Some things, sometimes very personal things, influence you more than others, sometimes for very personal reasons. So, fine-tune your list – intuitively. Trust your instincts. While you do, ask yourself why you’re making the moves you make and you’ll gain even more insights.

While numbers offer valuable information that can lead to genuine insights, numbers alone don’t tell your full story. For this, a little more soul searching is needed. But if you do this exercise you’ll have started off on your journey of self-discovery better informed and with a clearer direction.

Here’s a ranked/sorted list of of my photographic influences.

Two names on the list have been adjusted down, asking valuable questions.


A general trend of an interest in relationships between man and nature drives this list.

Read Why Tracking Your Influences Is So Important here.

Find out more about my influences here.


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