Posts Tagged ‘John Paul Caponigro


How we craft our lives, part 1

I have a few excuses for not blogging for such a long time. (Teaching, leading tours, working, writing, too much time on airplanes, LIFE.) None of them is sufficient. But I’ve also been at a loss for a meaningful subject. It hit me three days ago at the end of an equine photography workshop that I taught in California: community.

I have a mentoring client that has shaped her whole life around the idea of community. That has always seemed perfect to me for her photo work and projects….but I hadn’t thought about the concept in relationship to what I’ve been building. What else am I doing but that when we are gathered together to learn, to create and explore? And then that idea is compounded when I hear my students say “well let’s get together in Seattle and….” and “I’ve created a Facebook page to post images each month and you’re all invited”.

When a class comes together and builds on the friendships and community created during the workshop and extends that into their everyday lives, for a teacher, it is the most gratifying thing to behold.

It happened as well with a group that was traveling with me (and my co-leader, the indefatigable Arthur Meyerson!) in Portugal. They enjoyed each other’s company during the trip and have continued their dialogue after their long journeys back to real life.

I have my own community too, well, communities. My mentoring students keep me in touch with other work and other inspirations. They push me as much as I encourage them! And my own mentors are generous with their time and conversations. But this summer I’ve seen that I need to nurture my communities a little more. My students (they are always teaching me!) have shown me the value and I am grateful for the strong reminder.

So though photography is a solitary pursuit, demanding quiet, thoughtful intention, we can be part of a raucous, joyful bunch! I’m going to craft more time in my life for these days of joyful sharing.

Here are some images from Portugal, from California, and from Whidbey Island. All created this summer, in a community of friendship, photography, and inquiry. More to come in part two.

And for those thinking of returning or coming to the next equine workshop at Barbier Farms in June….OR on a trip to Portugal with me in 2015….here is some food for thought. My thanks to John Paul Caponigro for writing about his experience in a most elegant way.



a question of light

I’ve just finished teaching two workshops on two coasts in two weeks. And too many times I heard myself say “look at the light”! After talking for seven or eight days you can get very tired of hearing your own voice. So now is the time for me to be quiet and think about all that happened during these workshops in order to improve the next. I use many concepts and quotes from my teachers to break up the ‘me-ness’ of the class. But I think I need to add more. I found this quote this morning, thanks to John Paul Caponigro’s blog and it answers a question a number of students posed:

“Today’s photographers think differently. Many can’t see real light anymore. They think only in terms of strobe – sure, it all looks beautiful but it’s not really seeing. If you have the eyes to see it, the nuances of light are already there on the subject’s face. If your thinking is confined to strobe light sources, your palette becomes very mean – which is the reason I photograph only in available light.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt

Larapio, Lusitano Stallion, available light

Larapio, Lusitano Stallion, available light

I don’t like painting all my fellow photographer’s with such a broad brush, but the point is well taken. I don’t use flash for two reasons: first, horses don’t like it and second, I don’t use it well enough to make it seem like there is no flash. In other words, I prefer natural light.

I like the challenge of discovering a way to use all the light available. Very often, this means finding solutions to difficult lighting situations. It’s hard to put a horse in a soft box type of environment and then ask them to be dynamic. It can be done, but why not learn to see the beauty in light we are given? Seeing deeply, and truly learning how our cameras see light will create confidence and boldness.

Suplicio da Raposa, Lusitano stallion

Suplicio da Raposa, Lusitano stallion

“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt

Shoot into the sun? Why not? It can be magical! No light? Get a light horse and shoot the movement. There is more light there than we think! Bright sun in the middle of the day? Find some open shade or shoot a sunny portrait. Better yet, look for some bounce light and make a beautiful, softly glowing image. The point is, there are always photographic opportunities.

Abby and Stella, PRE Mare

Abby and Stella, PRE Mare


Keeping an open mind and an open heart will help to bring these to your awareness. So, one last quote from Alfred Eisenstaedt, the great master: “Once the amateur’s naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.”

My students keep me humble and stoke the fires of inspiration and creativity. Thank you for a marvelous two weeks! And a special thank you to Patewood Farm in New Jersey and Barbier Farms in California. The people and the horses in both locations made work fun and filled the days with laughter and good spirit!



on shepherds and breathing life into art

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.
Winston Churchill   

Family and close friends know that I am an ardent admirer of Winston Churchill.  Aside from his magnificent careers in politics and literature and that little matter of holding the candle for the free world for a time, Mr. Churchill was  a prolific and accomplished painter.  He had the ability to stop whatever he was doing and totally focus on his painting when he felt the need to step back from his tremendous burdens.  It was a comfort and a tonic to him his entire adult life.  Photography and writing give me that gift….now I’m going to add some bubbles. 

I’ve written about the impact that painting has on my photography and the way it opens my eyes and heart to see things new.  The visual history and legacies that have been left to us by artists since time began can inform and help to shape new work.  While reading a poem by Pablo Neruda, I saw an illustration today that I liked very much.  It has triggered my desire expand my thinking when I am photographing to consider subjects for other uses; for example textures as overlays, or patterns to give structure…and images, like poetry, as allusions.  This is not revolutionary, but it will help me to widen my field of view and express something that is new to me.   With Uelsmann and Caponigro and other masters in the field as shepherds, I’ll breathe some more life into my own journey. 

These are my first attempts to see with the idea of joining elements.

my website...galleries, other writing,

Flypaper Textures

Flypaper Textures

Trafalgar Square Horse Books
January 2021


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