Photography & Words – On Better Photography With Peter Eastway


“Have you noticed how all photographers have favourite stories that tell of being in a certain place at a certain time and making a photograph that really excited them? People love to hear these stories.” 


Recently I had a wide-ranging conversation with Peter Eastway, a great Australian photographer and the publisher of Better Photography magazine. We talked about visualization, the creative process, and how words can be useful for photographers.

Here’s an excerpt … 

Words Can Help 

John suggests that writing is far better at describing intangibles than photography. Sure, we can make photographs that represent love or freedom, but the language we’re using can be ambiguous. Not every viewer will pick up on what we’re doing. Many will have their own interpretations, so perhaps our own use of words in association with our photographs can make things clearer. “I think it depends on the kind of journey you want to create for your viewers. I was just looking at Eliot Porter’s Antarctica book, and I was surprised by how heavy the captions were and how dense the text that separated different sections in the book was. It’s not right or wrong; it’s just one kind of experience. However, a problem with words is that they can limit the viewers’ experience by not leaving enough room for the viewer. But words that are open, generative, and don’t close things down can be very engaging. “I think a lot of artists are uncomfortable with words because it’s not a skill they’ve developed. But good words have helped me understand art much better. They didn’t destroy the mystery; they enhanced it.” 

Think of an artist giving a talk at an exhibition or presenting a slide show of images. Would you expect the artist to just sit there and say nothing? Or would you want to hear what’s going on inside the artist’s mind, inside their heart?  John has a slide show about Antarctica on his website, and his voice-over provides an added dimension to the presentation. With the words, I felt I knew a lot more about John, his personality, and his approach to photography. There was a synergy. 

But if you have never written about anything in your life, how do you start to write about something that can be as personal as photography? It can already be challenging enough to show our photographs to others; now we’re supposed to write about them as well?  John has some practical suggestions, beginning with telling a story. “Have you noticed how all photographers have favourite stories that tell of being in a certain place at a certain time and making a photograph that really excited them? People love to hear these stories. What it was like to be there? What were you thinking? What were you feeling? What did you learn? You don’t have to say or write big fancy words or even have it all perfectly composed. You can keep your language really simple, just like you talk. One of the things you can try is to imagine you’re having a conversation with a mate and tell them the story. Transcribe what you say and maybe clean up the ‘umms’ and the ‘ahhs,’ but it doesn’t have to be fancy language. In fact, simple direct language will communicate with other people better. Most people get turned off by ‘art speak’, and most people do not want to read a 3000-word essay. But we love short stories. In fact, the human brain is hooked on them. So, telling one of your stories is a great starting point, and having hung out with some of the ‘greats’ of photography, you don’t need a lot of them. They were constantly telling the same stories. Dad had half a dozen stories he’d tell time and time again. How many celebrities did Arnold Newman photograph, yet he generally used the same small number of stories.” A short story can be used as a caption or an introduction. It allows you to position the viewer closer to you so they better understand what your photograph is about, but, as John emphasises, without making things so tight, there isn’t room for your viewers to use their own imagination. 

Read the full article. Visit Better Photography Issue 111.

33 Resources To Help You Enjoy The World’s Best Photographs Of 2022

Enjoy viewing 2022’s top photography collections!


Bloomberg Photo Essays

CNN Pictures Of The Year

CNN Photos Of The Year

New York Times Year In Pictures

Time’s Top 100 Photos Of 2022

The Atlantic 2022 In Photos

Reuters Pictures Of The Year

BBC – 14 Most Striking Photos Of Year

World Press Photo Winners

AP Top Photos 2022

My Modern Met Top 50 Photographs From Around the World

Life – Most Iconic Photographs Of All Time

National Geographic – Pictures Of the Year

National Geographic – The Story Behind 9 Photos

National Geographic – Best Travel Photos


Ocean Photographer Of The Year

Guardian Ocean Photographer Of The Year

Guardian Landscape Photographer Of The Year

Guardian Environmental Photographer Of The Year

Natural Landscape Photography Awards

Guardian Wildlife Photographers Of The Year

Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

CNN Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

CNN Wildlife Photographer People’s Choice Award

Comedy Wildlife Award


RSPCA Young Photographer Award Winners

Nature Best Science Images

2022 Photomicrography Competition 

Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography Competition 

CNN Best Space Photos Of 2022

Astronomy Photographer Of The Year

iPhone Photography Awards

12 Great Quotes By Photographer William Neill

Enjoy this selection of quotes by photographer William Neill.

“I learned that being in nature could not only be fun but also restorative and healing.”

“Living here has been an inspirational education, a mentorship taught by the landscape itself … What I’ve learned is that Yosemite, beyond its role as a nature preserve and place of recreation, is a sanctuary for the spirit.”

“I refer to nature’s beauty as my ballast in the storms of life. Seeing the beauty that surrounds me, and surrounds everyone, every day reminds me there is so much that is good in our world and gives me hope that the arc of history moves towards peace and kindness and beauty.”

“Seeing nature and looking for photographs is a daily practice for me.”

“I can see how “hunting” for images is a term that makes sense for how most of us find photographs. I prefer the idea of being a receptor for inspiration, for seeing what moves me.”

“You can best honor the landscape by becoming the best artist you can be, showing your own point of view and not regurgitating other’s point of view.”

“As for a responsibility of a landscape photographer to the audience, just be authentic to your vision. Share your knowledge of place and technique.”

“Be an activist for your favorite landscapes. If you are inclined towards environmental issues, use your images to educate others about what might be damaged or lost. As an artist, use your vision to share what you love so that they might love it, so that they might help them portray and preserve endangered landscapes themselves.”

“Historically, using beautiful landscape photographs have helped convince the powers that be to regulate and protect their use. We needed to strike a fine balance between protecting places and loving a place to death.”

“I’ve written that it can be helpful for some to “write their story” but it is not required. It is more important for you the artist to understand what you want to say and know how to say it. One way to do this is to write it out to help clarify your reasons to photograph for yourself and for the viewer.”

“By creating photographs where the content or orientation is not obvious, an intimate and enigmatic feeling can come through. I would rather make an image that asks a question than one that answers one, one that intrigues and arouses curiosity in the viewer.”

“My favorite photograph quote was written by Minor White, “When you approach something to photograph it, first be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence. Then don’t leave until you have captured its essence.”

Learn more about William Neill here.

Read a quick Q&A with William Neill here.

Read quotes by William Neill here.

Free Webinar Nov 22 – The Wonderful Things Printing Can Do For You & Your Images

Join me for a free webinar

Tuesday Nov 22 at 1 EST

Here’s a link to the replay!

The Wonderful Things Printing Can Do For You & Your Images

What can prints do for you and your images? Let me count the ways!

Learn what to look for in good prints and how to make yours great.

Find out about the many ways you can use prints to improve your art and its success.

Get my free The Digital Printing Quick Start Guide now.

Hosted by Calibrite in the B&H Event Space.

Click the link below to join the webinar.
Passcode: 887027

The Landscape – National Juried Small Works Exhibition


The Landscape
National Juried Small Works Exhibition
Juror: John Paul Caponigro, Photographic Visual Artist


Exhibition Dates: November 26, 2022 – January 16, 2023
Reception: Saturday, November 26, 5-7 pm EST
Meet the Juror and Artists on Zoom: December 14, 7 pm EST – Register Here.

This is our tenth annual Small Works exhibition, and each work is affordably sized 13 inches or smaller for your Holiday gift list.

Our juror selected fifty-seven artworks by forty-six national artists working in photography, painting, and mixed media depicting the theme. These personal vistas of our land world include the expanse of outdoor scenery, varied environments and geography, and natural or man-made related landscape subjects.

About the Gallery Exhibition, The Landscape:
Landscape (noun): a picture representing a view of natural land scenery; the landforms of a region in the aggregate; a portion of territory that can be viewed at one time from one place.

Our national juried exhibition welcomes entries of traditional and alternative photography in color or black & white, photo-based works, paintings, mixed media, and small sculptural works depicting the theme, The Landscape. Our Juror will be looking for thought-provoking, creative works expressing the theme with representational or abstract interpretations showcasing the natural land world, the expanse of outdoor scenery, environments, geography, and natural or man-made related landscape subjects.

Aspects to consider: 

compelling abstraction, dramatic compositions, varied vantage points, detailed lines, shades, textures, rich tones, environmental concerns, and expressive scenes.

Aspects to avoid:
people, animals, sunrises, and sunsets unless the physical Landscape is the main focal point of the image or composition.

Discover more at the Alex Ferrone Gallery.

Hey, Look! – An Evening Of Photographic Inspiration With Jay Maisel

Join us for a special evening as Santa Fe Workshops’ Creativity Continues online with two master photographers, Jay Maisel in conversation with John Paul Caponigro.

In this special hour dedicated to savoring the sensual act of seeing, Jay will present a selection of his images and thoughts, followed by lively question and answer sessions, first with John Paul, then with special guests, and finally you. Bring your questions and something to take notes with; the insights will flow fast.

Jay Maisel is hailed as one of the most gifted photographers of all time. A hero and a teacher, countless photographers feel he changed and still changes the ways they see. He’s a living legend whose work is studied around the world and whose presentations garner standing ovations every time he takes the stage.


Event Postponed Until 2023

Wednesday, October 26 from 6-7 MT / 8-9:30 EST

Register now for this free special event here!

Sign Up For Insights for announcements.

Get Jay Maisel’s inspiring biweekly collections here.

3 Great Books On Photographic Contact Sheets

You can learn a lot about looking by looking at photographers’ contact sheets. (Today, it’s digital collections.) It’s the closest any of us will get to see how another person goes through searching for an image. Warm-ups, near misses, fine-tuning compositions, and the decision of when to stop or move on to something someplace else entirely; they’re all significant and informative. It’s rare to be able to see photographers other than ourselves at work like this.

You can enjoy the search for great images by great photographers in these three books.
(Click on the images for links to the books.) You can even purchase select Magnum Contact Sheets for display.

View my digital contact sheets here.

Learn more with my Visual Storytelling resources.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Two Generations Talk : Paul & John Paul Caponigro – Online MMW

Receive this ebook free.       26 images – 26 quotes

Recorded May 10, 2022 – 1 PM EST


Two Generations In Conversation, an afternoon with father Paul Caponigro and son John Paul Caponigro cohosted by Maine Media Workshops. During this captivating hour, the Caponigros, after a brief viewing of images, will share their thoughts about the soul of photography, the joys of printing, and how the two are related. Then we’ll finish our program with a lively question and answer session open to all participants.

Enjoy this shorter video as either an appetizer or a dessert.