“At the root of creativity is an impulse to understand, to make sense of random and often unrelated details. For me, photography provides an intersection of time, space, light, and emotional stance. One needs to be still enough, observant enough, and aware enough to recognize the life of the materials, to be able to ‘hear through the eyes’.” — Paul CaponigroPaul Caponigro
In his poetic reflection on creativity and photography, Paul Caponigro speaks to the impulse within us to find meaning and connection. He describes creativity as the act of synthesizing seemingly disparate details into a new understanding. This certainly rings true for photography, which takes fragments of time, space, light, and feeling and fuses them into a single image.
Caponigro argues that photography requires stillness, observation, and awareness. In stillness, we allow the details to come into focus rather than rushing past them. In observation, we notice and absorb the subtleties that give those details meaning. And in awareness, we sense the deeper essence that animates the materials—the “life” inside inanimate objects and moments.
This process of seeing and synthesizing creates order from chaos. The photographer looks patiently until the details crystallize into something coherent. By “hearing through the eyes,” they grasp at the threads connecting each fragment into a whole. They take meaningless bits of time, space, light, and emotion and compose them into an image that conveys a new understanding.
There is a mystical quality to this act of creativity that Caponigro evokes. Photography becomes almost a meditative practice of slowing down and listening closely enough to hear the inner life of the world around us. When we tune into that life force, we can then give it expression through a photograph. Just as a musician channels sound into music, the photographer channels light into art.