Last weekend I was at John Paul Caponigro’s Maine Islands Workshop. The workshop appealed to me because it was based in a part of Maine I hadn’t previously explored and it was an opportunity to work with John Paul. For the uninitiated, John Paul is a fine art landscape photographer whose work often blurs the line between photography and painting. I was initially more familiar with his work as a master printer since he was referenced by many of the photographers I have paid attention to. After poking around on his website I realized that JP could be the photography mentor that I have been looking for, someone who could help me become more like me.
I was more than a little bit intimidated in signing up since I felt that John Paul attracted people that were already very good and were pushing to be more creative. I really needn’t have worried. John Paul’s relaxed demeanor helped to foster a very supportive environment that made for good weekend.
As an added bonus Kevin Ames was part of our group. I was familiar with Kevin through his book ‘The Digital Photographer’s Notebook’ so this was real surprise to get a chance to meet him and see him in action. Kevin has a great sense of humor and was fun to be around. He’s also a great resource for imaging possibilities in photoshop which came in very handy. I’m looking forward to bumping into him again.
The subtitle of the workshop was ‘Illuminating Creativity’, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that at each of the shoots John Paul gave the group an exercise – shoot a photograph that’s a noun, make the postcard image and then make a more creative one. What this did was to shift my thinking. I have a specific project that I am working on that I half thought I would come close to finishing at this workshop but what actually happened was that I tried a lot of things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I made some images that I like, I have a few ideas that I will pursue further and I have a better sense of why my duds are just that duds.
It was an odd sensation but I came away from the workshop feeling the same way I did when I got into graduate school – an ending but also the first step on a grander adventure.