top of page

My Photographic Journey

My PCC Photography class at Oregon Museum of History to see Carlton Watkins exhibit.

The photographer who is not driven to wander and explore will capture few great images.

The photographer should always be the first subject the view sees.

PHOTO BUDDIES: Class visiting Oregon Historical Society Museum to view pioneer Carlton Watkins photographic display. 

My Photographic Journey began in 2005 with the purchase of my first Nikon DSLR camera and enrolment in Portland Community College photography classes, mustered by doubtful courage, and urged on by free tuition offered to students over 65 years of age. In fact, I was a camera neophyte almost 50 years senior to the youngest member of my class.

Excellent fortune to begin my photographic education under the tutelage of Prof.Kelli Pennington, MFA, accomplished photographer trained in many artistic disciplines, including fine art printing.  


In my experience, every person embarking on a journey of learning envisions a different destination, applying different criteria to realizing when the destination has been reached. No matter the definition, the moment it all comes together can be magical! Entering my photographic journey’s fourth year in the winter of 2019, I reflect on lesson learned...objectives realized...on purpose and by serendipity.

Most vividly, I recalled my past journey into ecopsychology that led to my experience of mysterious ‘web strings,’ the elusive strands Einstein searched for without success, and physicists only recently validated with discovery of Higgs boson, nicknamed "God particles,” that finally revealed how all things in the universe are bonded in an embrace of pure energy. For them, the discovery was magical.

My nature-based work that I’d set aside in pursuit of photography make me wonder, “Could I capture these elusive ‘web strings’ in a photograph?” And the answer came to me from a speech given by Paul Caponigro recounting decades of work with camera and film.

How fascinating to hear this iconic photographer describe his sense of light shining from an apple in a deeply spiritual way. Was this the photographic process I was puzzling over? Did he capture the ‘web strings’ that bind the universe?

Needing to know more, I ordered two Caponigro books. In the first, ‘Masterworks from Forty Years,’        


I found his apple…vibrant and shining with interconnections to the cosmos just as he described. My next question ‘How?’ was answered in the second book, Seasons, in which he explained creation of this special image.

He wrote: “My attention was caught by the simplicity and beauty of an apple, and rational thoughts about the manipulation of materials were suspended; instead I dwelled only on its form and the light that was reflecting from it.”

Apple with universal webstrings photographed by Paul Caponigro
Between Friends: Little boy and horse experiencing webstrings of love

“It was not until later, when I printed the negative that I began to realize what I had responded to. And something urged me to keep printing, using deeper tones. When I saw the new print, I was thrilled. The surface reflections of the apple shone forth as points of light, and I was amazed to see, not a rendition of an apple, but a galaxy of stars.”

“Why had I not seen that exact potential in the apple when I first photographed it, and realized that I was receiving the message on a deeper, subconscious level? In looking back at earlier successful photographs, I recalled that the same meditative stance had attended the making those images.”

“I no longer sought the ritual of formula. A long process of asking myself, ‘Is this it?” was replaced with, “Does this match the radiance of my ‘inner child,’ once known, and now remembered?” The years of questioning were replaced by action in the moment.” And it was magical.

Paul Caponigro vividly reminded me of earlier studies I’d set aside regarding the power of my ‘innate sensory knowing’ to recognize and clasp universal energy…just as he so brilliantly teased a galaxy of stars out of an apple…capturing ‘web strings’ in action.

The next time I went out with my camera, I, too, set formula aside and asked images to spontaneously come to me, not through logic, but through the only reliable truth in this life, and the one embraced by Paul Caponigro…‘present moment awareness.’

One day, after several tries at editing and printing one of my images, I, too, finally connected to what had called to me in the field. Amazingly, I could truly see genuine points of light shining from my subjects. Coincidently, my image involved an apple, too. And it was magical. The image, displayed here, is “Between Friends.”

I then realized I had seen ‘web strings’ before without realizing it, and I have seen them since, most often in others' eyes.

Listen with your intuitive sense of knowing before you turn your eyes to see.

Explore the world and self by blending creative photography with Nature around and within.

J Christina Brittain
bottom of page