Monday, November 26, 2007
John Paul Caponigro - Master Of Fine-Art Photography
John Paul Caponigro is the complete artist. He's constantly striving to achieve meaningful art as he experiments with new tools and new ways of thinking about what photography means to our culture.
He's the consummate artist, but that doesn't mean that John Paul Caponigro locks himself in an ivory tower where he can spend his days in contemplative isolation. On the contrary, anyone who knows Caponigro knows that he's an artist who also loves to be an educator and something of an evangelist for photography and art. The son of one of the most famous photographers of all time, Caponigro has forged a path full of experimentation and the embrace of new tools to achieve his vision.
In a field where too many people hoard their techniques as though they're state secrets, Caponigro has a decidedly different outlook. “I do several workshops throughout the year,” he says. “I find it invigorating and stimulating to work with students, and when I can show someone one of my techniques and they can take it in a new direction, the result is that we all get better.”
Between demanding teaching and travel schedules, one naturally asks how Caponigro finds any time to do his own work. “I'm efficient,” he explains. “I've learned to focus so I can be efficient when I'm working and when I'm teaching. It comes from a long history of having a lot to do. I find that I can stay focused and produce meaningful art.”
Does Caponigro wish he could afford the time to be somewhat less efficient? “No,” he answers. “I'm trying to work more time into my schedule so I can produce more art, but even with more time I want to keep that same level of efficiency. I want more time because more and more I feel like I have a lot to say, and I want to make the time to say it.”
Caponigro is an early adopter by any definition of the phrase. He readily embraces any new tool that can help him to achieve his vision.
“I love digital tools,” he says. “I'm obviously a big believer in and a big user of Photoshop. I do hear some of my peers who still cling to a notion that digital isn't ‘real,' but I don't buy that. Curiously, I hear it more and more coming from young photographers these days. I don't know if that's because they have been taught by professors who preach anti-digital or if it's just some kind of backlash. I do find it a curious phenomenon. Even my dad, who's a film shooter, says he'll have to learn digital when they stop making film. There's someone you might expect to completely reject digital, but the real reason he keeps to film is because it's what he has always used and he's comfortable with it, rather than because it's some kind of evil technology that's undermining photography.”