Paul Caponigro, born in Boston in 1932, first discovered the art of photography at the age of 20. He attended Boston University to study piano, but in 1953, he was drafted and stationed in San Francisco as a photographer. There he met and studied with Benjamin Chin. Later, Caponigro studied under Minor White, who was a colleague and friend of Ansel Adams, Edwards Weston and Alfred Stieglitz. In 1958, Caponigro had his first solo exhibition at the George Eastman House. Over the next two years, Caponigro traveled cross country to photograph the American wilderness and National Park landscapes, staying with Ansel Adams. In 1960, Capinigro became a consultant for Polaroid Corporation in photo research department, as well as a photography professor at Boston University. In 1961, encouraged by Ansel Adams, Dr. Erwin Land & Polaroid acquired works by Caponigro for their collection. This was the year of his first appearance in Aperture. Caponigro has exhibited and taught throughout the United States and abroad. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships and three National Endowment for the Arts grants.
Caponigro uses traditional photographic materials and darkroom techniques: film and darkroom. He develops his own negative and prints using the silver gelatin process. “I believe the process should involve not just the chemicals but also the alchemical.” Caponigro mixes different types of chemicals and paper to achieve his velvety blacks, crisp details of light or its atmospheric effects. “Fineness of the tonal values in the black and white photographic image, for me, is much more than producing technically excellent prints."
"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'."
Among the institutions that have collected his photographs are the Fogg Museum,Harvard, Cambridge, MA, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY, Museum of Modern Art, NY, NY, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D. , Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, , Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, International Center of Photography, NY, NY, Guggenheim Foundation, NY, NY International Museum of Photography, at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LA, CA, National Endowment of Arts, Washington, D., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Austra, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England