Paul Caponigro

During a recent study visit, Paul Hill recommended looking at the work of landscape photographer Paul Caponigro. I found two useful resources; a YouTube video in which Caponigro talks about his relationship with photography and examples of his work on the website of a gallery representing him, including pdfs of catalogues .

Caponigro discusses his philosophy on photography in the YouTube video. He has what could be described as a mindful approach. He talks about Ansel Adams and Minor White as influences, but preferring White as he had a more spiritual approach; saying he looks at things not just for the actuality but what else they are. Caponigro suggests that to be a good photographer emotion is more important to work on than technique. He aims to ‘see everyday with fresh eyes’.

Caponigro’s work is concerned with the observation of the forms of nature, which his images sometimes show as other-worldly abstractions. This would reflect his mindful philosophy of seeing beyond the everyday. This quality in the images of showing something other than we might see in the familiar makes them compelling viewing.

If I think back to my earlier photography, my interest was mostly in the form of things. What studying photography has encouraged me to do is analyse images for meaning and theorise their context. Despite the mantra ‘shoot first, analyse later’, it is very difficult to resist left-brain take-over and enter a constant state of analysis. After all, formal education is dominated by the pursuit of logic and analysis. A bit like improvising on a musical instrument, I need to let go of the analysis while playing the camera and go with my instincts.