MS. LARSEN: And he was - was he in the service?
MR. CAPONIGRO: He was not in the service. He was a civil service worker. He had been in the service previously. But he'd open his door after processing his film and find me standing there once too often. And he finally said, "Well, I know you're new here, but I don't know what you want. Why are you always standing at my" -
MS. LARSEN: How did you find him? How did you know of -
MR. CAPONIGRO: He was there. I mean, he was a worker in the lab.
MS. LARSEN: Oh, I see. Okay.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Hired by the U.S. Army to do their color. I said, well, you've got this stereo system and you're playing very beautiful music on that stereo system. And all I have to listen to is that scratchy box and that terrible stuff they pour over the daily radio. "Oh," he said, "Oh, okay. Now I understand. You like the music." I said, "I'm crazy about music." He said, "Well, you know, I got a brand-new system at home with the latest in stereo, really good sound. How about you come into San Francisco on a weekend and I'll give you a dose of some really good music on a really good system? Let's do it." He said, "I'll take you to the Chinese restaurants as well." We did that. And he brought me through the back door of a Chinese restaurant, garbled a lot of words at the cook. Then we went upstairs into the main dining room and sat and waited for a feast to appear, which it did. And then we went to his apartment. He played music, and I saw some photographs on the wall. I said, "Ooh, these are really nice." He said, "You like those?" I said, "Those are special." "Oh, you see them as special. Well, you want to see some more?" "Yes. I would love to see more." Pulled out an Edward Weston 50th anniversary portfolio. Pulled out some original Ansel Adams. Pulled out some Minor Whites. He pulled out a lot of work of his and fellow students while they worked with Minor and Ansel at the California School of Fine Arts. At the time, early to mid-'40s, they had instituted a fine art photography program. Ansel and Minor were the head of it. And these guys were working in it. And I thought, oh, my God.
MS. LARSEN: Where has this been all my life?
MR. CAPONIGRO: I said, "What's this?" He said, "What, you never heard of Ansel Adams?" I said, "No. Who is he?" "Oh, he just happens to be one of the great nature photographers. You never heard of Imogen Cunningham? You never heard of Dorothea Lange?" The whole roster was there in his room. I said, "Would you look at my pictures?" Because I had brought some of my work with me. He said, "Bring them into the lab when you can." Which I did, and he looked at them and said, "Well, who the hell are you?" I said, "Well, I'm" - you know, he said -
MS. LARSEN: I'm me, from Boston.
MR. CAPONIGRO: "I'm from the East Coast." He said, "Nobody works like this out there. You're a West Coast photographer." He said, "You actually are a good nature photographer. You really belong here on the West Coast because they're not doing anything like that. That's all that New York stuff and journalism and all that kind of - this is where they do this kind of work. And all you need is technique." So he took me under his wing, taught me the zone system, used his densitometer, used the U.S. Army film and papers, spent all my weekends with his camera and tripod photographing along the coast in San Francisco.
MS. LARSEN: You couldn't have fallen into a better situation with better counsel had you tried.
MR. CAPONIGRO: There we have it. It all got set up.
MS. LARSEN: But you saw right off that there was an affinity?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Oh, yes. Yes.
MS. LARSEN: You saw it?
MR. CAPONIGRO: And I was - he worked with me for about four or five months and then said, "Are you free this weekend?" I said, "I am." He said, "Well, get yourself ready. Dress up in your civilians; don't use your Army clothes. We're going to go to a party. There's going to be a bunch of photographers there. You might like to meet some other photographers that work around this area." I was 19. He picked me up at the barracks. We drove to the other end of San Francisco. 26th Avenue is where Ansel lived. Walk up his driveway, this walkway, and ring the bell. And the door opens, and Mr. Ansel Adams is standing there. "Hello, Bennie, how are you?" He said, "Fine. And this is my friend Paul Caponigro." "Well, how do you do, sir? Come on in." Ushered into his studio, where the moon rises and the mountains and the Yosemite Falls and, I mean, unbelievable prints.
MS. LARSEN: They really are, too. They truly - the physical aspect of those prints - you see them in books, that's cool. You see them in person, it's entirely something else.
MR. CAPONIGRO: I was entranced.
MS. LARSEN: Uh-huh. [Affirmative] Sure.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Entranced. I was absolutely stunned. And then Bennie, you know, brought me around the room. It was a going-away party for Minor White. Minor was leaving the California School of Fine Arts, that teaching position. Took a position to teach at RIT in Rochester, and simultaneously was going to be the curator of shows for the George Eastman House. So there was a going-away party for him. And I was introduced to all of them - Bert Westin, Imogen Cunningham. Dorothea Lange was there. Oliver Gagliani. A lot of the younger students that were pretty talented of Ansel and Minor. And two or three other well-known photographers were there, as well as some of the faculty from the California School of Fine Arts.
MS. LARSEN: That was that first evening?
MR. CAPONIGRO: That was that first evening. All the community of photographers on the West Coast was there saying goodbye to Minor, who was going to head for the East Coast.
MS. LARSEN: When did you find out that -
MR. CAPONIGRO: And there was a piano in the corner.
MS. LARSEN: Yes. I was just going to say, when did you find out that you had that in common, too, with Ansel, love of the piano?
MR. CAPONIGRO: That night.
MS. LARSEN: That night? Yes.
MR. CAPONIGRO: That night. Because they prompted him and made him play, you know. And eventually he sat down and -
MS. LARSEN: How was he as a pianist?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Pretty good. He was pretty good. A bit mannered, which was the style of those days. What you might say a competency, but just enough - too much attention to flair, which causes a kind of disconnection from the keyboard. It's more manner that you're after, unconsciously, no doubt, rather than what my teacher taught me was, you stay with the keyboard because the sound is inside and you have to make it come out. So there was a certain kind of - I wouldn't call it superficiality. It was a mannered thing. And what my teacher wanted me to do was to get into the sound and let the sound be the inspiration to understand the music and the composer.
MS. LARSEN: I've always heard people discuss the fact that Ansel Adams was involved with the piano. I've never heard anyone tell what it sounded like.
MS. LARSEN: Just the fact that he loved music is usually enough.
MR. CAPONIGRO: No, I'm aware of that whole period because I looked through his sheet music at one point and actually got him to make some copies of certain pieces that I couldn't find. He was perfectly happy to let me have - you know, or let me at his piano and work in his library of sheet music. So I got a pretty good taste of especially the Bach chorales. They're sort of very grand and they're very almost Victorian, you might say, or they were played in that era. I got a good flavor of the era in which he grew up and was educated. And it was a bit mannered. Not quite affected; I mean, there was depth to the man. And I say all of this after I grasped what my teacher was leading me into in my own piano.
MS. LARSEN: Well, there are different styles and approaches and philosophies and just personality expressed.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. And I have an ability to get a taste of the personality as they are manifesting either in their work through prints or their manner at the piano. It gives me - I can get insight into what their focus really is.
MS. LARSEN: Technically, looking at Ansel Adams' work, I guess I - when I first saw the prints in person, and the first time I saw them was at Orange Coast College when I was dating my husband and we went to a show, and they had their Ansel's work. And he was there. And there were a lot of prints, and I had never seen them in person. And I was really floored by their surfaces and the nuance of light and stuff, you know, every little -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Detail everywhere.
MS. LARSEN: Yes. Exactly.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Beautifully toned.
MS. LARSEN: They just -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Wonderful scale.
MS. LARSEN: They just kind of rivet your eye and they keep it engaged. It's not -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, that also has to do with his own musical sensibility. His compositions were - as Edward Weston would have said, "When I see Bach in my photographs, I know that I've arrived." And that's a very strong, very powerful insight into what contributes to a successful image, is the organization of it. Not pitting one thing against the other; that's called design, and usually it's quite superficial. But what I discovered was not design, but proportion, how much of this, how much of that, and their relationships to one another. And that came entirely from an emotional recognition, not the intellectual, oh, well, I'll have this tree over here and I'll have this line cut in here and we'll make the - that's -
MS. LARSEN: Uh-huh. [Affirmative] You're aware of the whole and the parts, I think.
MR. CAPONIGRO: And almost simultaneously. That's how the photograph happens. That's when I know that something has really worked. Just bam. I go, yup. And that's felt. It's not an intellectual jostling. A simple movement of the camera one way or the other, up and down, looking at the ground, there they are.
MS. LARSEN: Did you see in his work an advance technically that you wanted to access? Or not necessarily? There were things that he could do that you wanted to do?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. I mean, that's what Bennie Chin recognized. He said, you know, "You see well. You know how to make a picture. You know how to put a picture together," he said. "But your technique is lacking," he said, "and I want to teach you technique. And I'm going to put you through the paces of the Ansel Adams zone system." When we went to see his prints, I thought, okay.
MS. LARSEN: Yes. Here's the result.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Let's do it, you know. Let's go for it. It took some years to question that and try to get it to move a little further - not that I have any arguments with what he did. But I needed something for myself.
MS. LARSEN: Yes. I understand exactly what you're saying.
MR. CAPONIGRO: To inject something else.
MS. LARSEN: Yes. But he was a real force, I think, pushing people further into the medium and showing them what was possible. And maybe other things were possible, too, but -
MR. CAPONIGRO: But something happened in that - or rather, how should I say - I recognized that Minor was a good influence to have around Ansel, and Ansel was a good influence to have around Minor.
MS. LARSEN: In what way?
MR. CAPONIGRO: In that Ansel would only go so far in terms of the emotional recognition of a work of art. Minor went too far in that he got almost therapeutic and psychological, overly psychological. Ansel did not want to get involved with the psychological aspect. And that shows in the work, you know? It really - it goes that far, and it is beautiful for where it goes. And I can hear Minor saying, "Goddamn it, Ansel, when are you going to let your hair down?" You probably read in my Seasons book where I was standing next to them, between two glasses of vodka, and Minor was chiding him. He said, "Goddamn it, Ansel, are you still practicing that zone system?" And Ansel said, "Yes, my dear man. And I understand you are now practicing the Zen system."
MS. LARSEN: [Laughs] Yes.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Right? [Laughs] With no animosity, no - just sort of playful. But I found that Ansel's work went that far, and Minor took it further, and I thought for a good reason. But I also found that Minor went more, further than - oh, you know, it's -
MS. LARSEN: It can get very inward, I think, very - it doesn't access the general and the grand. It becomes very involved in his home.
MR. CAPONIGRO: So Ansel I found underly personal and Minor was overly personal. And I would side with minor. And what I found for myself was I had to shave certain ways of his thinking, as I did with Ansel's work. I had to question the totality of the zone system and do away with certain aspects of it because it tended to block the emotional system.
MS. LARSEN: Not being a practicing photographer and not exactly understanding the zone system, is it a recipe or a formula or a sequence of activities or -
MR. CAPONIGRO: It's all that.
MS. LARSEN: - a way of locating yourself?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Ansel found a way to take the earliest discoveries about photography, about the photographic medium, particularly the film. Hurter Driffeld were the first explorers in realizing that exposure and development together exerted a certain effect on the film, resulted in density. So, so much exposure, so much development, and you would get this result in a print. If you changed the ratio of exposure to development, you were going to get another result. And Ansel coined a term which sums the whole thing up: You expose to get what you want in the shadows. You put enough exposure, you get values in a print, in the print, in the negative shadows. Then you develop to preserve the highlights. In other words, you cannot develop shadows into existence. You must put exposure on the film because the amount of light that strikes the emulsion is not sufficient for the energy of the developer to activate and bring into a density that will reveal detail. So you had to expose for what you want. The development, however, was quite malleable. You could change by degrees within a certain range of time, anywhere from five to ten minutes, and the shadows would stay relatively stable. But the high value would come down very quickly. So you could overexpose your high values because you were trying to preserve the shadows. And you could control it and get both in by reducing your development time. So that was the zone system. But there's a lot of other technical information you needed to know about transmissions, opacities, densities, reciprocals, and blah blah blah.
MS. LARSEN: Yes. That's where I get -
MR. CAPONIGRO: And Ansel wrote six volumes on the subject. And you really don't need all that information. I found that too many of them, too many of the West Coast types, thought that they had to master all that. And they were so busy mastering all that information and processing it that perfection was like dangling always in front of them, and they missed what wanted to get into the photograph.
MS. LARSEN: Yes. Yes.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Until they put the technique aside. Then you could see that those - that the results of their experimenting to meet what you needed to manifest an image could then be felt. This is what usually got left out because you were barraged and overwhelmed by too much technique. Minor, on the other hand, would try to get you to an emotional state first, either by Zen meditation - if he really ever knew what that was, anyway; not many people do, really, but it's interesting and it's glamorous to say, oh, I meditate. All that kind of thing. He went a little overboard in assuming that he knew a lot. And let's face it: Most education hands out a great deal of information that never gets digested. It gets stuffed up into the head. Minor at least would have periods of like - that was his intent. Get them to the emotional place first; then reach for what you needed to manifest the image.
MS. LARSEN: Find the technical wherewithal to do what it is you have in the heart to do. But -
MR. CAPONIGRO: So I found my position had to be find out about the technique and then forget it. I know I often tell my students, oh, yes. Boy, I got six bags full of technique. But I never take all of them with me. One, maybe, all I need. Then I go to work. I just don't want to trip over the technique. I need to use just enough to get the job done.
MS. LARSEN: Yes.
MR. CAPONIGRO: So Ansel and Minor were like, you know -
MS. LARSEN: Yes. Two poles.
MR. CAPONIGRO: And I saw, and I actually left the West Coast because I realized that the grand landscape and that kind of beauty of detail and that clarity of rendition is missing something. What's missing? As exquisite as it is for its photographic silverness and detail -
[END TAPE 2 SIDE A]
MS. LARSEN: [Laughs.] Could you see yourself getting into that community and being - these people were much older than you and in another stage in their career. But the next generation, the next group of folks, did you have some sense that staying on the West Coast and merging into that community of workers?
MR. CAPONIGRO: This is exactly the process. 1955, my tour of duty is over with. I don't want to go home. I want to stay on the West Coast and continue working with this community, with these people. Mom and Dad were pretty wonderful to me. They'll be very unhappy if I don't come home. So I flew back to Boston from the separation point in Arizona. They shipped me out. This Army sergeant who really didn't like me got me out of there and gave me duty in hell, Yuma, Arizona, 115 degrees in the shade. It was a testing station for the U.S. Army, clothing and products. How does it hold up under intense heat?
MS. LARSEN: Oh, that sounds horrible, including you.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Exactly. Precisely.
MS. LARSEN: But you were still in the photo lab?
MR. CAPONIGRO: But I was still in the photo lab. And it gave me the opportunity to get out into the desert and photograph. I really started using the zone system and what I understood of it, and making quite good negatives - with Army materials, but with my own 3-1/4 Speed Graphic, which I would set on a tripod. I brought my -
MS. LARSEN: Is this the same camera that you'd acquired a million years ago?
MR. CAPONIGRO: That I bought in high school.
MS. LARSEN: That's great.
MR. CAPONIGRO: So I would go out and photograph in the desert of southern Arizona, very close to the California border. Wonderful dunes, all that good stuff.
MS. LARSEN: Was there any other photographic person out there to talk to?
MR. CAPONIGRO: No. But I intrigued a few of the people who were a little more intellectual and realized like what's going on here, Caponigro? So I helped them understand about exposure development and, you know, I would share this with them. And we had a good time. There was another antagonist who just liked being an antagonist. But that year in the desert was good. Then I got discharged from Arizona. Went back to Boston. Got back to some piano lessons while I floundered around about would I go to school? And I've got the GI Bill; I could get an education. I did some night classes at BU in art, in art history, with a Professor Bailey, Professor Mervin J. Bailey, who was head of the art department at Boston University in Reliance. And he was like the guy in grade school who handed me paper and pencils and said, you know, do it. He saw something in my photographs and said, you know, come to my place. I live out in the country. And I actually photographed his gardens. Got a picture of him. And I would go to the lectures on art.
MS. LARSEN: What periods did he teach? Ancient art?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Renaissance.
MS. LARSEN: Renaissance.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Renaissance I think right up to Impressionist. A good man, and sensitive, too. So he was helpful. I communicated with him. He sort of took me under his wing, as he saw it. I wasn't going to football games and hanging out at the bars. And he wanted to encourage me. He saw that I had a really good eye. So that year I did that. And I thought, no. I don't want to be here. I don't want to start a business. I could go back to shooting weddings. I don't want to live at home, you know. I'm going back to the West Coast. So I got on a bus. My father gave me - he said, I haven't got money for you. I said, look. I've got the GI Bill. They'll support me till I get a job. He said, all I can give you is 50 bucks for your pocket and a bus ticket. He put me on the bus, him and my mother, sent me on my way. It was a four-day drive, four-day Greyhound bus, night and day on that - all the way back to San Francisco, where I met some Army buddies who put me up on their couch till I found a job with an advertising company in their darkroom, and I reacquainted with the West Coast group, which included some painters and sculptors, quite good ones.
MS. LARSEN: For example?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Beniamino Bufano was doing some wonderful sculptures.
MS. LARSEN: Yes. I know who that is. Yes. Yes.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Dell Federle was not that well known, but he had a very Cézanne-like feel to his paintings. And there were dancers. You know, it was a real live art community, including the photography.
MS. LARSEN: And that was the peak period, too, wasn't it?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes, it was. It was. So I went back and spent a year, during which time I was realizing, this is wonderful but there's something missing. I do not know what. I can't quite grasp it. I love doing this. These guys are great. Del Federle said, "Meet me for lunch at so-and-so. It's right near the Museum of Modern Art. We're going to go see a show." I said, "Okay. Let's go." And we had lunch, and we talked about this, that, and the other. He used to love to come up and listen to me play the piano. I rented a piano. He'd come and listen to me play the piano. He would draw and sketch. We had a nice relationship. Had lunch. Went to the Museum of Modern Art. And he ushered me into a retrospective on the work of Morris Graves. And just the way that I walked into Ansel's studio and thought, oh, my God, there it is, that was the technique, I walked in and I thought, now I know what's wrong, what is missing. This man has a mystical sensibility he is able to impart in his images. The West Coast school can't do that, or very rarely does it. The only photographer in the whole group is Minor who approaches it and every now and then gets there. But this is what's missing with the whole West Coast thing, why I'm uncomfortable. And now what do I do?
MS. LARSEN: Where do you find the place to practice that?
MR. CAPONIGRO: It was the vision that had to be attached to whatever you had as technique.
MS. LARSEN: Graves was not a person who I think everyone understood or even now understands. He's sort of a by-the-way person that the big art marketplace doesn't honor.
MR. CAPONIGRO: His watercolors, drawings of things like Little-Known Bird of the Inner Eye, Moon-Mad Crow in the Mist, unbelievable mystical intensity and penetration of that very emotional state that I have to recognize or another artist to recognize that you're in it and now work. He got there, and you could see by what he manifested that he was there. And I thought, there it is.
MS. LARSEN: Did you ever seek him out, or was that at a point -
MR. CAPONIGRO: I tried to find him, but at that time he was away at a New York show. I did visit his home, and his housekeeper let me in and was very kind and showed me around the grounds.
MS. LARSEN: I love Imogen Cunningham's photographs of him. You know, those -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. They're quite -
MS. LARSEN: Yes. They're absolutely -
MR. CAPONIGRO: They're quite good. Well, I saw that show, and it answered my question, what was nagging me. And within ten days I packed up my bags and got back on the bus, went back to Boston where I set up a little photo business, and I was going to find out how to merge this technique with this ability to capture your visions, and the ability to know that you are emotionally connecting with what you see, and how to get back in the print, how to get it into the image.
MS. LARSEN: And then so you reconnected with Minor as well?
MR. CAPONIGRO: I kept in contact with him. Well, wait a minute. That was at that point that - yes. He said on the West Coast - Bennie Chin brought me to him at the party and said, "Minor, I can't do any more for this guy. He really needs your attention at this time." And Minor said, "You're stuck with him because I'm leaving. But, young man, if you ever get to Rochester, New York, look me up." So I remembered that. When I got back, after I'd seen the Morris Graves show and I set myself up in Boston, I put together a group of prints, mailed them to him in Rochester, and said, "I would like to work with you." And he liked the prints that he saw and said, "You know, this is a poor man's land. If you have any money and you can take care of yourself, you're welcome to come to Rochester. I'll give you a bed. We have a little community of photographers, both from the university and from George Eastman House, and we all kind of share and participate." And those were - that was 1957, the year after I left California and said goodbye to the West Coast. And then that was the beginning of that contact with Zen in the art of archery and Zen in the art of photography and Zen in the art of cooking, and et cetera et cetera.
MS. LARSEN: Maybe we can start with that next time. Is that okay?
MR. CAPONIGRO: We could, yes. All right. It's 12:30. It's a good time.
MS. LARSEN: Because that's a meaty subject.
MR. CAPONIGRO: You're right.
[END TAPE 2 SIDE B]
MS. LARSEN: I'm very sorry. I do deeply apologize.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, you go back and you give hell to that salesman at the Radio Shack.
MS. LARSEN: Well, actually, it was my husband who put this tape in. And I didn't figure out -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Uh-oh. So where did it -
MS. LARSEN: Just a few minutes, and then it stopped. So we lost most of it.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Just a few minutes? So all of that.
MS. LARSEN: I'm heartbroken, and I'm very sorry. But this is working and this is moving, and this has been just cleaned. And here I'm trying to - well, you know what it is with new cameras like that sometimes. It's better to try it out. In fact, we did even do a rehearsal at home this morning with the new machine, and it -
MR. CAPONIGRO: And you never know where the gremlins are going to be hanging out.
MS. LARSEN: I don't understand it.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Just like the variables in photography.
MS. LARSEN: Jeez. I'm sorry. I'm very sorry.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, now, we can make a real recap and go quickly through.
MS. LARSEN: A lot of that was very good, and I - well, I remember most of it.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, you probably want to - maybe you might remember some of it and write it down.
MS. LARSEN: Okay. I will put it in my notes, as much as I can recall. But okay. We are here and we are moving, and that's good. Okay. So -
MR. CAPONIGRO: 1956 was the year that I went back after the Army days to San Francisco to continue studying with the West Coast photographers. It was seeing the exhibition of Morris Graves, whose work offered this - what I appreciated about Edward Weston's work, kind of penetrating more, getting into the subject, trying to go beyond it. I was dissatisfied with that feeling of the grand landscape on the West Coast. I knew something had to happen. When I saw the paintings of Graves, I thought, yes. That's the idea, you know, not to be afraid because of mysticism in there, not to be able to put some atmosphere that goes somewhere and works more with the emotions than it does with the intellect. So I decided to leave the West Coast and go back to Boston to work. I worked at anything. I even helped my dad at his furniture shop.
MS. LARSEN: And you photographed architecture at that point?
MR. CAPONIGRO: No. I didn't start that just yet. I actually was shooting some weddings to make some money. But then I decided that I would take up Minor's offer to visit him in Rochester, and he took me on as one of his students. He always had two, three, sometimes four people hanging around at 72 North Union Street. There would always be what I used to call the séances, where we would be reading photographs, you know, putting up somebody's work and reading it à la Minor White, trying to go deeper with it, which was a very good exercise.
MS. LARSEN: Was it like a critique or was it different?
MR. CAPONIGRO: It was more than a critique. It involved some critique, but Minor was trying to get the students to become a little more psychological. Ansel would stop at the technique.
MS. LARSEN: Really?
MR. CAPONIGRO: And Minor would push them. You know, why did you do that? Why that specific and why that - I mean, that's what Minor was doing in his work. In that regard, I considered him a lot closer and already separated from the West Coast school, closer to Morris Graves in the approach to mysticism, which is a term - you know, it's a difficult word in terms of getting to it.
MS. LARSEN: It's a little more like an art critique, too, where typically people ask not - a little bit how you did it, but why and what it's getting toward and what it's trying to -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. So Minor pulled out all the stops on why. And it was part of our group.
MS. LARSEN: And that's where you met Walter Chappell?
MR. CAPONIGRO: That's where I met Walter Chappell. I think Jerry Uelsmann was part of that, although he wasn't actually present. He had just graduated along with Carl Chiarenza. They were the previous students, but they were involved at RIT rather than just being at Minor's apartment. David Lyons had arrived, and he took a job at George Eastman House. Several others, some known and others not known, were there. But it was a pretty lively activity of pulling the students in to really look at their work and try to go further with it. So I was there for the - I was there in 1957 for the winter. In early '58 I went back to Boston and continued finding a way to make a living, photographed for myself. Was invited to go back to work with Minor as a student in early summer of '58, at which time he gave me an exhibition at George Eastman House. I remember he insisted that I would put a title to the exhibition.
MS. LARSEN: What was the title?
MR. CAPONIGRO: We selected out the group of photographs, decided, yes, this is what we're going to hang. And I just sort of lived with them for a little bit and thought, ah, you know, the title is "In the Presence Of." And he was very pleased with that. And I thought, where the hell did that come from? That's about it, isn't it? "In the Presence Of" - dash. Of what? And that's the big question. What? And you're either sensitive to that what or you're not. And that was all the arguments about -
MS. LARSEN: Sure. What is it out there?
MR. CAPONIGRO: So he was very pleased with that title. Then I went back to Boston again, kept contact by phone, by mail. I would make a trip up there just for a weekend sometimes. Walter Chappell would come to Boston at times. So we had a little community of photographers there, kept each other warm. There were no galleries at that time. People weren't -
MS. LARSEN: But was there writing about you, critical writing?
MR. CAPONIGRO: No.
MS. LARSEN: No?
MR. CAPONIGRO: The one thing that took place was Art in America magazine -
MS. LARSEN: Yes.
MR. CAPONIGRO: - used to have a little two-page deal called "New Talent in the USA." And I don't know how they got hold of my name, but they wrote and asked if I would submit some of my pictures and a statement. They accepted it. And so, I mean, that was the first thing that gave a sigh of relief to my mother and father, who didn't know. They wanted me so much to take over Dad's business. It was safe and sound and who knows what.
MS. LARSEN: Generous.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Art is a good hobby, but you can't make a living, et cetera. So when they saw this magazine appear and my work in it, they thought, maybe he's onto something. So they actually provided me with being able to build a darkroom in the basement of their house. I could live there and have a place to work. And that was quite good, helpful. And for '59, Minor asked me to assist him teaching some workshops on the West Coast; that we would travel together from Rochester, photograph and camp out all the way, and then teach on the West Coast. And that was a summer affair, during which time we spent a few weeks as the guest of Ansel Adams. He gave us a place to sleep. Allowed us to raid his liquor cabinet. I was allowed to play his piano and use his darkroom.
MS. LARSEN: That's nice.
MR. CAPONIGRO: It was very nice.
MS. LARSEN: All of that that you describe - Minor's home, Ansel's home - all of that, that openness and generosity, is quite remarkable.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. Very much so. Very much so. And as I said, so few photographers were working and thinking in this direction. But they sort of tended to keep each other informed, and stay warm, and swap prints. Nobody was buying them so we used to swap them, you know, that kind of thing. And that's when I met - I met Ansel for the first time in '54 when I was in the Army. And that was very brief. And I met Minor very briefly. But then when I went back, he wasn't sure he remembered my being there in '54, but saw that I had been working diligently, and asked me to - he said he would get in touch with me when he came to Boston to consult with Polaroid. So Minor and I finished that summer-long session. Went back to Rochester. I stayed there for a few weeks, processed my film and proofed, and we talked a bit about that. And as always, there were always students around, and look at the work, talk about it. Then I went back to Boston. And that's when I took up architecture as a way of making a living.
MS. LARSEN: Now, were these just-completed buildings that architects needed record photographs for?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. Yes. New buildings. I created a portfolio just by going around Boston and the vicinity photographing interesting buildings from interesting angles, and would knock on the doors of architects. And I picked up four or five clients who liked the work. So that worked well. I was able to make a living. But then Ansel arrived that following year, 1960, saw my exhibition, my first Boston - well, it's not my first Boston exhibition. My first Boston exhibition was at a place called Spiral Gallery and Gift Shop on -
MS. LARSEN: Was that in San Francisco or Boston?
MR. CAPONIGRO: It was in Beacon Hill, Boston. I came back in '59. I didn't want to live with my parents or my grandparents. I forget where I - I would maybe bunk in with my brother now and then. But I bumped into the Spiral Gallery at Beacon Hill, and they had half a dozen artists from all the media. They had a huge loft space, and everybody had their corner. And they would also get the space for hanging periodically, like so-and-so would hang a painting show for a month.
MS. LARSEN: Yes.
MR. CAPONIGRO: So-and-so would hang a show. So-and-so. And I had my very first photo show at the Spiral Gallery and Gift Shop. I forget the name of the street, but it was in Beacon Hill, on the main drag that goes through the Beacon Hill area. And I simultaneously was able to use that space to start teaching. So evenings I could teach because no one was there. During the day people would be there working in their corner or whatever, and the show would be up for people to come and visit, whoever's show was up.
MS. LARSEN: So as you were teaching, you didn't have a darkroom facilities there for teaching.
MR. CAPONIGRO: I was able to use the darkroom facilities - Carl Chiarenza was finishing his PhD in the photojournalism department of Boston University, and he got me a job teaching in the department. It was a special deal with the director of the department. He just wanted to find out what the hell I was about, what was going on. And so Carl Chiarenza - that's where I was sleeping, was at Carl Chiarenza's. He was still a student. We hooked up, remembering the Rochester days. I had the show at the Spiral Gallery, and I began teaching private students, at first as a group. I put an ad in the paper and got a group of about eight or ten people. And then - two of which were William Clift and Marie Cosindas.
MS. LARSEN: Wow.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Both of them were beginners with students of mine. Bill hung on for a few years after that, and Marie would come occasionally. Because I later took a place on Newbury Street right across from her design studio. She was doing design - painting, design, graphic work for publishers, et cetera.
MS. LARSEN: I know her as a photographer.
MR. CAPONIGRO: And she was very, very interested in photography. And she would come once or twice a week to my new studio after the Spiral Gallery. That's when I met Carl Sinbad, who had a painting gallery and decided, "We've got to have an exhibition of your work." So we put up a show. And that's about the time that Ansel arrived, saw the show, and said, you know, "Put this guy on as a consultant."
MS. LARSEN: With the Polaroid?
MR. CAPONIGRO: With the Polaroid Corporation working in that new department that was developing the professional materials.
MS. LARSEN: Were they aiming toward people like yourself, or were they aiming toward a product that would be used, say, in the advertising businesses and media?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Oh, yes. Definitely the commercial world and the media. Definitely. I mean, that's where their real money would be because these art photographers, you know, who knows what they're about. However, you know, they knew that using their sensitivities, they would get the best out of their materials, whether they were going to sell commercially or not.
MS. LARSEN: Did they ever use your material as an example or promotion or -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Uh-huh. [Affirmative] Every now and then. Every now and then they would ask my permission to use this on a brochure that they were putting out. One year they put out a Christmas card, a three-fold Christmas card, with three of my images on it, very beautifully done. A number of ways. Recently there have been exhibitions out, a big catalogue of Polaroid images using a lot of the Polaroid [inaudible] collection.
MS. LARSEN: And did they acquire your work as well that you'd done in that medium, or not?
MR. CAPONIGRO: No. No, they never acquired anything. They were entitled to. The deal was I would shoot so many boxes - it worked out to like three days a week - three days a month. And I would be given $300, all the film I cared to use, and I could make pictures for myself as long as I turned in a certain number of boxes or items to test that particular material. So I kept for myself images that meant something to me as well as handed them in, you know, because, you know, right there on the spot, you can do two as well as one. So I always made a Polaroid print for myself. Well, it seems that all the Polaroid prints, they have no collecting. There was no way of preserving or interest in preserving them. They were purely interested in how it's behaving and how the emulsion is going and dah dah dah dah dah. And the stuff would be laying around the desk of the scientists. And came time in the early '80s, to do the Seasons book, which were all my Polaroid images, the designer and publishing department under Connie Sullivan in Boston called and said, "Polaroid is ready to do a book, and we're going to distribute it through Little Brown," et cetera. I said, great. I'd love to do that. "Bring the Polaroid prints. We've got to have Eleanor, my ex-wife, design it." And she said, "I don't have any prints." I said, "What do you mean, you don't have any prints?" I had left hundreds of prints there, and when I was a consultant. She said, "We never had a way of preserving, collecting." I said, "Well, where are they?" And she said, "People at the end of the day would just pick them up and put them on their refrigerator or take them home. They just dispersed."
MS. LARSEN: Oh, boy. They had no curator, no archivist.
MR. CAPONIGRO: I said, "Well, aren't you lucky that I made a collection for myself. As long as you promise me that you'll insure them and take really good care of them, we'll use my prints for this." So they have not that many of my images there. What they do have, and what Ansel did in the early '60s, he said, "Look, Dr. Land. You need to know more about what really good photography is. And you should have a collection of conventional prints. I want you to buy some from Minor White, some from my collection, some from Paul, some from the New York photographer so-and-so, and, you know, a range of well-known photographers, and put those prints into a collection." And that's when they began - this was '61 or '62; I forget -
MS. LARSEN: Well, weren't they fortunate.
MR. CAPONIGRO: They were.
MS. LARSEN: They had very good advice from him.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. And at that time, that's when they began holding onto whatever stuff I would produce. And I was consultant off and on to them till about '67, when I got the Guggenheim to go to Ireland, and I stopped everything and focused on the Irish prehistoric content. So then when Ansel came and said, "Give this guy a job as a consultant," I thought, fabulous. This is - you know, this is secure. Not a lot of money. So I found a place that would cost me 50 bucks a month. It was in the country, at Ipswich. It was a gentleman's summer place, really quite beautiful. A simple structure, but nicely put together. And he said, "Look. All I really want is a caretaker. Pay the heat and give me 50 bucks a month and you can live there." And I thought -
MS. LARSEN: Could you be there in the summer as well?
MR. CAPONIGRO: All year round. That's when I bought my first piano. I thought, wow. I've got a place to put it. I can make a payment, 50 bucks for rent, $50 towards a payment on a new grand. All the film I can eat; I don't have to buy film. I have the materials. And I don't have to do commercial work. And I did. I stopped all the commercial work. And I lived very spartanly.
MS. LARSEN: Yes. And it's not a big margin you have there.
MR. CAPONIGRO: But it worked. It worked just fine. And so the '60s were involved with running back and forth to New York and Boston using the money from the Polaroid consultantship. And that is when I got involved with the Gurdjieff people in New York City. I took up with them. That's when I started -
MS. LARSEN: You were doing drawings there?
MR. CAPONIGRO: - drawing, and I started the sacred dances and the special exercises Gurdjieff had invented, and really went into that in depth, and still continued to photograph.
MS. LARSEN: And what sorts of images were you doing at that time while you were in Ipswich? Landscapes?
MR. CAPONIGRO: A beautiful series of snowstorms. A wonderful series that actually never got printed. I hardly ever show them. And also, I was doing some stuff indoors. I'd bring some plants indoors and place them on a marble table and get some still lifes out of it, things of that nature. And a lot of the landscape around the area. Also - oh, yes - there was another very unusual series, again which have never been seen, hardly ever been seen, and that's the doll series.
MS. LARSEN: Doll series?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Dolls. I had a painter friend who had a large collection of dolls, and fascinating dolls. I mean, they really had some presence about them. They were good. And so I would photograph those dolls. I did it with a set of Polaroids, and I did it simultaneously with conventional film to be able to enlarge them if I wanted, as well as some on PN-55 negative for Polaroid. But that was an unusual series.
MS. LARSEN: I remember in that lecture you did in Rockland, you showed a few of those.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. There was a couple. But there's a much larger group of a few dozen that are quite handsome. Very [inaudible]. I think those are tucked away somewhere.
MS. LARSEN: Was there ever a time you did the human figure or portraits in any -
MR. CAPONIGRO: I did a few friends, maybe three or four people that I knew. A couple of head and shoulder shots. There's a few portraits, but nothing extensive. The dolls got much better treatment than the humans did.
MS. LARSEN: [Laughs.]
MR. CAPONIGRO: They were much more human, as a matter of fact.
MS. LARSEN: And the still lifes with the sunflower and the thistle, when did they come in?
MR. CAPONIGRO: That came after I left New York City because I eventually moved down there and spent about two to three years, specifically to focus quite intensely on the Gurdjieff stuff, the Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. I was there for the drawing. I was there for the sacred dances. I was there for a working. There's something about the teaching of Gurdjieff which throws people together. And it's not like psychotherapy, but it's aimed much more at you realizing that the person you're dealing with or getting excited about or angry at - the whole idea was self-study, you know. Well, where are you in all of this? And Gurdjieff was teaching that, you know, if you actually stand in the street and look at somebody else, you see your own asininity or your own good qualities reflected in them because you're no different than them. They're no different than you. And they can remind you when you come back to yourself and catch on to what you're manifesting. And the focus was heavy on self-study. And so he would arrange for groups together and work together in everyday situations - build a barn and do a - and we actually did all of that. That was a period of seven years.
MS. LARSEN: That's a long time.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes, it is. Well, I stayed with the group for seven years. That kind of work was for about five years. And that all ended for me in 1967 when I got the first Guggenheim, decided I wanted to go to Egypt to photograph the temples. But at that time, Nasser was very much against America, and so they didn't treat Americans very well over there. Dorothea Lange, in fact, warned me. She said, "You want to go to Egypt at this time with a one-year-old boy and a wife?" She said, "If you must, you know, fly in from Italy and speak Italian. Don't tell them you're an American." Well, if it's going to be that difficult, we should think about something else. And that's when my wife Eleanor showed me that there was ancient material in Ireland that would also be worth considering.
MS. LARSEN: Ah, so that's how -
MR. CAPONIGRO: So we went to Ireland instead. So instead of the Egyptian temples, I got into the prehistoric temples, Stonehenge and all of those related sites.
MS. LARSEN: I was very curious. I love those Stonehenge photographs, and I always have admired them very much, and wondered - let me see how this is moving along here. Good, we have lots left - what did people know of Stonehenge at that time? And what did you know of it?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Absolutely nothing. I knew nothing. And the archeologists were in the process of measuring them physically, and the only thing they had were legends and myths surrounding them. Of course, they could not take the myths and the legends seriously. Folklore was probably doing one of the best jobs, the folklorists of the British Isles, because some of the ideas in folklore would reflect some of the myth and some of the legend that was associated. So they were floundering.
MS. LARSEN: So it came down to verbally, that it was - the folklore collected verbal memory that had perhaps tumbled down the -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Folklore had the Irish fairy tales of them. The rhymes in the British Isles had some interesting - you know, a guy named Graves, as a matter of fact, the writer -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Robert Graves. Robert Graves wrote something called The White Goddess, and he did a fabulous job of taking the Ogham writing, which is a very special writing from the time of the Druids, and some of the rituals written up in legend and myth; and the language of the trees, how the hawthorn did this and the ash did that, and related to certain seasons. He did what Joseph Campbell did with The Hero With a Thousand Faces for the prehistoric period with his White Goddess.
MS. LARSEN: And did you know that at the time?
MR. CAPONIGRO: No. No, I was absolutely - I was picked up as a dumb kid, but innocent, picked up by the forces of nature. I knew that the forces of nature were a language, was a way of life, could inform you. In other words, nature really was my teacher right from the beginning. And something happened in my life that related me to stone in particular - which I wasn't aware of; I just loved stone. I loved the form, the shape, the texture, the arrangements. And in working with that with my camera, a very powerful impression came from a particular photograph of stone. And as with these poor mystics who are - you know, they're infected with the devil; stuff comes at them, in them, through them. But this impression arrived, and it caused a set of words to rise in my mind. And it said, teachings from the ancient fathers. Here I am looking at a photograph I made of a stone wall, and I'm hearing the words, teachings from the ancient fathers.
MS. LARSEN: Was this before you went or was this -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Long before. Before I even - before I was even married. Before I even considered the idea of - I mean, I knew I wanted to go to Egypt because I was going to the museums to get what I could from that.
MS. LARSEN: That seems very much the most obvious and the most known structure there.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Then I saw - as we were doing research about whether we would go to Ireland or not, I saw photographs of certain kinds of stones. And I thought, I think - you know, there were the dolmans and Stonehenge and similar sites. And I thought, oh, yes. Yes. There's something in there.
MS. LARSEN: So you started in Ireland and then -
MR. CAPONIGRO: I started in Ireland. I was actually going to do the high cross and the churches and the Celtic Christianity. But when I saw my first set of stones in the land, I thought, oh, my God. I was bewitched. Something snapped, and I blindly just went for them. I thought, you know, the more I address them, the more I'm with them, the more I could possibly understand -
[END TAPE 3 SIDE A]
MR. CAPONIGRO: So I just wanted to know what - well, what the hell are you up to, and where is your measuring stick? You know, you're photographing without a measure. You know, they used to put - everything they studied had a stick graduated in feet, red and white.
MS. LARSEN: Oh, I see. Yes.
MR. CAPONIGRO: And they put it next to there.
MS. LARSEN: So this is the document that you - that's a scientific document you were supposedly taking.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Exactly. They thought I was studying [inaudible]. And I said, "Well, they spoil my picture." "Well, how is anybody going to know how tall that stone is in the picture?" I said, "Frankly, I don't care," you know. I mean - so there were -
MS. LARSEN: How did you find these places? Did you -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, like I would have - I'd have a stout with the archeologists. I would go to the main cities where they housed their collection of photographs of these places. And it was called the Board of Works at that time, what we would call the National Monuments Department, that care for these ancient sites. And they had all kinds of records, a library of the legends and the myths associated with them. They'd been photographing them. They had a library of photographs. So I got access to their maps and their photographs so I could -
MS. LARSEN: That's great.
MR. CAPONIGRO: You know, very often I would go out and I'd know a certain site was here. But I'd get there and there really was nothing to photograph. It was no more than a foundation outlined by the earth. I thought, oh, that's going to waste a lot of time. Then I took up with looking at their photographs, which they'd made over several years. And I thought, okay. That has potential. That one has potential. So they were very helpful, and at the same time they were wondering, you know, "What the hell are you doing? I mean, why are you studying these?"
MS. LARSEN: There's a huge interest in the last twenty years.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. And I started photographing them a couple of years before they suddenly became a curiosity that had to be looked into a little deeper. And maybe a few people like Gerald Hawkins, who wrote Stonehenge Decoded.
MS. LARSEN: Yes. I got that book.
MR. CAPONIGRO: That came out after I was photographing those stones. So I was brought there for my own questions about mysticism and ancient material, which is the most informative of the mystical life and mystical activity that I could find by associating with those sites, especially the Egyptian. It's very powerful.
MS. LARSEN: When you first went to Stonehenge, was there a - I remember going there in 1969, and it was very plain. And there was nobody there, and it was very just unencumbered, no fence and nothing -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Right.
MS. LARSEN: And it was - you know, I didn't really think too much except to study it in school. But it had a kind of clean purity and quiet about it. And I guess now it's very -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, they had to put a fence around it by - I think it was 1977 is when they put up the fence because between '74, '75, and '77, there was a great deal of vandalism. A lot of hippies thought that they should take it over. There was a lot of activity, and resentment that they were not allowed - you know, not allowed to play latter day Druids or - there was a bit of a thing going on. And they wanted association, these people, with the sites. They were denied it by the keepers all. And so, you know, they would go and spray paint on the damn thing, peace signs and - so they had to fence it off.
MS. LARSEN: But when you first went there, what was the atmosphere?
MR. CAPONIGRO: When I first went there, it was totally - the only device they had - there were no fences, but they had a device where the earth, the ground, before, surrounding the whole monument, was sensitive to touch. They would switch on in the main guard room. They would switch it on when they left. They'd open the gates at 9:00, switch off the power, and keep it off until 5:00 when they closed the monument officially. Then they'd put on the alarm. If anybody walked within a certain distance of the monument, the alarm would go off and the police would come. So that was the protection they had. Otherwise, it really did - you had the open space. And I took advantage of that because I started photographing it in '67. And I continued photographing it right through '72. I think my last photographs were in '77. I made some in '77 without the fences. I went back every year and spent a few weeks with the place, just photographing it.
MS. LARSEN: Those photographs are very well-known and widely admired. What were other sites that - other places that you felt were -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, that's in my book entitled Megaliths. It outlines all of the different types of prehistoric monuments. And there's a good section in the back that a friend of mine, an editor, put together describing the sites and telling where they are. So that pretty much covers the single standing stones, the stone circles, the avenues, the mounds, the tumuli, and all that kind of stuff. So I covered most of those.
MS. LARSEN: This body of work seems to have evoked and tuned into a very general awareness and appreciation of your work in the art community, it seemed. Is that so or not? I mean, I remember seeing those just a lot of places.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, when did the great Celtic revival come in? I'd say somewhere around the '70s. The New Age people hooked into the Celtic as being one of the really strong holders of that power of that thinking and idea of Mother Goddess, God being a woman rather than a man, all that kind of stuff, that whole revival of the pagan and Druid thinking. I'd say that is what pulled those stones into focus in the world in general, the realization that those - Castaneda happened simultaneously. Castaneda was being brought by Don Juan to power sites, and it became obvious that these were power sites. They were places chosen by the ancients who knew what the earth energies were about and would build their sites on particular pieces of land that have that extra strength or energy that could affect a human being.
MS. LARSEN: When I saw your photographs, aside from the content of place, which I remember feeling when I was there, with eyes that are educated on minimal sculpture and modernist abstraction, et cetera, et cetera, the formal qualities of those photographs seemed to really relate to and measure up to some of the best of that kind of sculpture and the general artistic look of it.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. I could see where they would do that, mainly with [inaudible]. I worked simultaneously not only for what to me was the best facet of that particular stone as a sculptural entity, but also to try to pick up the atmosphere of the groupings of stones. So that was the task I had, which I didn't realize at the beginning. And I didn't realize what the hell was happening. You know, my first two years were - I was mystified. But I was also impelled. And as I was working with those stones trying to understand them - and the archeologists were always after me: "What the hell are you doing exactly?" "I don't know. When I find out, I'll let you know. I just got a photograph." And then it hit me, bam, teachings from the ancient fathers. It was a stone wall that gave that phrase to my brain and teased me in my emotions. And when I got to these sites and I was totally caught, and thought, I'm done, I can only follow my instincts here and work, I thought, here, yes, are the teachings from the ancient fathers through stone. I thought that was an interesting dimension, an internal dimension, of -
MS. LARSEN: Like an affirmation.
MR. CAPONIGRO: You know, I mean, one of the things that would - an affirmation of the silent realm informing you and having a validity because you keep running into it.
MS. LARSEN: And you're following something, and you've started here, and you're still - the path is -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. And in that sense, time is telescoped. The accordion is closed. And I thought that was no different between that time I made the photograph of that rock wall to the time that I recognized that the stone was really the medium and that nature somehow beats out an energy that informs you.
MS. LARSEN: It's just what I was trying to say, that these photographs make and satisfy on a number of levels where different people will come at it with different purposes.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, that's why they chose me, because I was determined to be an artist and I was trying to work within the medium of photography, keep that as the art. My other artistic interests and the museum visits were nourishing and feeding me. And so all of that could arise in these photographs I was making. You know, when I met those stones, one of them, as I tried to photograph it, you know, leaned forward imperceptibly and said, "What do you want?" It said, "What do you want?" And in it was like two paragraphs: Why that angle? Why this particular place at this time? What is your purpose? What - you know, it just sort of said, what do you want? And I backed off because I knew that I was after a composition. And I had my zone system and I could master the light, whatever the light would be, and blah blah blah, all my rationalizing, intellectualizing, composualizing [sic]. And the stone said, "That's not what you're here for."
MS. LARSEN: Yes. Right. You're here for - you bring all that here, but what do you want?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Right. And I left. I just stopped right in my tracks, and I went and had a cup of tea and a pork pie at the stand, and just sort of sat back and thought, well, you're either going crazy or something's happening, you know. So I bravely after a few hours went back and very cautiously. What it said was, you know, you're not here for any of what you know. You're here to learn. And just bring us your craft. Use it. You'll be informed as you work. And that's what was happening. It was like - this was a -
MS. LARSEN: I think, too, that you saw that place in great depth and complexity, that, you know, like anything of that - it's a very special kind of situation because it's big, of course.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. And a very complex design.
MS. LARSEN: And it's high up, and it is large, and it has multi - it offers all these different angles. But, you know, most of us, when we go to see a place like that, we come away with a psychological impression, a memory. But the usual touristic shots linger because you see the same touristic shots over and over and over again. But -
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, that's exactly what the stone was telling me. You know, be careful. We know what you're here for. All you need to do is keep your craft handy. Your craft is. It does not think, you know. And when you arrive at the state of being an emotional archeologist and not the average archeologist who digs, you are digging emotionally and you will be informed through that realm.
MS. LARSEN: Because you took it apart. You took it in elements. You put it back together again.
MR. CAPONIGRO: Yes. And the printing was very important. The printing was very important. Like I said, too much selenium and it wipes out a certain quality of atmospheric feeling in the print. So I was after atmospheres more than -
MS. LARSEN: How did you deal with the tourists and the other folks? Or did you have special access?
MR. CAPONIGRO: Well, a few of the guards were sensitive to the fact that this kid was not playing around. He's quite dedicated and serious. Why would he come back so often and - you know, he has that something about him that you know that he's after something. So they would let me in at 5:00 in the morning. They would turn off the power. I would walk across the lawn leading up to the hedge. And I could work until 9:00 when everyone was allowed to go through the gates. So I had that free time.
MS. LARSEN: Four hours.