Paul Caponigro is renowned for expressing the spiritual by means of film photography, using the medium to maintain contact with an unseen, mysterious dimension.


Caponigro was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1932. When he was a boy, he spent his free time at the seashore and in the woods, where nature became his first teacher. When it came to formal education, Caponigro focused his studies on visual arts and piano.


Caponigro began his professional career working at portrait studios, learning practical aspects of photography. In 1953, he was drafted and assigned to the photo lab at the Presidio 6th Army Headquarters in San Francisco. There he met Benjamen Chinn, who became a lifelong friend. Chinn demystified Ansel Adams' zone system and introduced Caponigro to his circle of friends, which included Minor White, Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, Imogen Cunningham, and other West Coast photographers, many of whom were associated with the California School of Fine Arts.


The army sent Caponigro to Arizona for a year, where he photographed its remarkable arid landscape. When he left the service, he traveled back and forth across the country until he realized that West Coast photographers didn't offer the mystical intensity and emotional state he sought to express. He decided to reside on the East Coast and become Minor White's student in 1957. He had his first exhibition, "In the Presence Of," at George Eastman House in 1958, establishing his reputation as a master of the large-format camera. Ansel Adams saw Caponigro's work in 1960 and hired him to be a consultant for Polaroid, testing their new materials. At this same point in his career, Caponigro spent a few years teaching at Boston University, but turned down offers to pursue a formal academic career.


In 1967, Caponigro received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and went to Ireland, where he began a long-term photographic relationship with the ancient stone edifices of the British Isles, including early Christian churches. Later, he traveled to Japan and France for further photographic and spiritual exploration. Caponigro spent several years based in the southwestern United States and traveling internationally before settling down in New England.


Caponigro has sustained a long and fruitful career, photographing, exhibiting, and teaching throughout the world. He is the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships and three National Endowment for the Arts grants. His work resides in the permanent collections of major art museums, such as MoMA, Whitney Museum of American Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Guggenheim Museum. He has written eloquently about his ideas and experiences in publications released throughout his career.


Paul Caponigro resides in Cushing, Maine, where he continues to write, create music, and photograph what the world proffers.