Telling my story . . .

April 16, 2012

These are all workshops that I’ve taught at different places, and want to offer again — probably in new ways.  I’m talking with several  conference centers, but also invite you to consider these for your school, your church, or your community group.

About Listening

Listening is the core activity in almost all of our social and work lives — and yet how little time and effort we spend perfecting this skill!  And too often when we should be listening, we’re really preparing to talk, plotting our course, processing our emotions, or even tuning out completely.  In this workshop we’ll practice active listening, offering feedback to test our understanding, and formulating questions that clarify what was already said.  We’ll identify common behaviors that get in the way of listening, and best practices that can help us all.

Photography as Journal Keeping

Photography can be just snapshots, or deeper expressions of feelings, perceptions, ideas, memories. We’ll experiment with deeper ways to see, experience, and feel — using a camera.  This is NOT a technical class on photography, and in fact you don’t even need to bring a camera with you.  Just bring an open mind, open eyes, and (if you have one) an image that means a lot to you.

Read the rest of this entry »

This text is from the preface to my book of dance photography, Dance!, which is available directly from me, or from The book includes full page reproductions of all the images in galleries  Dance 1 and  Dance 2 on my photography web site,

I document the work and energy that goes into dance — not just the final performance. Being in the studio as dances are created, or even as dancers prepare themselves, feels like being in a delivery room as children are being born. Amidst pain or anguish, tempered with rhythm and support, and bolstered with faith, new life emerges. It’s physical, sometimes sensual, often spiritual. Too often this process is ignored, as image makers look only at the final result — the dance. Read the rest of this entry »

Some recent dance images

January 2, 2010

These five images are available on a special sale — $150 each, with 20% off if you buy two or more. They were archivally framed for Portland’s “Black Frame Art Sale”, in 12″ x 12″ frames.  You can pick them up in my office, or have any number of them shipped for $16. Payment can be via check, or paypal.

The Equus Project -- photo by Arthur Fink

These pictures were taken of the Equus Projects — a company of dancers who work mostly in relationship with horses on the ground.  This is not about fancy riding, but about dancing between species.  I had the privilege here to work with Joanna Mendl Shaw and some  of their dancers as they first got to really meet these wonderful horses.

(Of course all of these images are for sale as archival framed prints.)

Continue to see more images in this series. Read the rest of this entry »

Back from Holland — lots to write about, but first a few pictures:

Birthing is a dance

November 3, 2009

Arthur Fink - Birthing a dance 3911

Last weekend I was co-leader of a workshop on “Photography as a Spiritual Practice”.  This is how Woolman Hill (a Quaker conference center in South Deerfield, Massachusetts) listed the workshop in their program:

Arthur Fink and Tony Stapleton are both Quaker photographers who carry their photographic work (or play) as a spiritual inquiry or expression.  They invite you to join in this weekend of photographing from within, which will include time for worshiping together, making pictures, sharing our work and process, and just enjoying Woolman Hill.  Our goal is to broaden our vision, open our spiritual awareness, and, in the process, learn how to take more expressive pictures.  This will not be about technical photography instruction, and all photographers are welcome regardless of technical knowledge or experience.

The most important news to report is that we had no trouble finding an energetic  group of participants who agreed with this theme — that photography is part of our spiritual lives.  It’s about discovery and expression, about worship and reverence, about self and other.  Images are metaphors for deeper understanding, even as they are clusters of silver particles or digital pixels that we labor with as we craft our art work.  But these are my words — not theirs.  What I’m reporting is not a manifesto from the group, but my own distillation of what I saw going on.

Sensing that this might workshop might not fill Woolman Hill, the director had scheduled another workshop to share the conference center with us.  We were paired with “The Wisdom to Know The Difference: A Weekend on Discernment”, led by Eileen Flanagan.  I’d strongly recommend her new book, “The Wisdom to Know the Difference: When to Make a Change and When to Let Go” — available at and at other bookstores.  It was wonderful to be constantly reminded that the process of photography is a kind of discernment, as we choose to put our frames around very select portions of the visual world that we experience.

I’m excited about running other similar workshops, as well as more programs on creativity and spirit in general (not tied to a particular artistic discipline, like photography or dance).  I’ve run these in the past, and was always touched by the gifts that each participant shared.

My main message to our  group this weekend — Look and see, before you photograph.  This may sound trivial, or obvious.  It’s not.  The process and technique of photography can easily absorb us, and distract us from sensing where we are, what we feel, and what we have to say and share.

Interested in this dialog?  Please respond here, or contact me.

I had just moved to Portland, Maine, intending to leave my consulting career and open a commercial photography studio.  In those days we didn’t have personal computers with desktop publishing software, and so I hired a designer to produce my business card, letterhead, etc.

Her suggestion: “Your work is so graphic, and so visually strong . . . take pictures of something like dancers, and use these on each printed piece”.  And so I did — set up my strobe lights and a nine foot wide roll of white background paper, invited dancers from a local modern company, and my own dance began!

Making good art can be painstakingly slow, but my first attempt at dance photography was easy, exhilarating, and spiritually fulfilling.  She struck a pose, and I snapped.  I moved a bit, adjusted, and clicked again.  She moved.  Click.  And on  we went.  I found myself drawn into a visual dialog.  Later I would discover that it was actually a dance — although I’ll hasten to say that I’m not in any way a dancer. Read the rest of this entry »

This is my 90 second photography lesson!  Look before you photograph.

In my dance photography class, I note that most people walk into the dance studio, or into the theatre for a rehearsal, pick up their camera, and start shooting right away.  I guess they are looking for the highest leap, or the kmost perfect arabeque, or some other triumph.  That doesn’t work.

Start by looking . . . carefully.  Find something visually exciting, something that tells your story, something that you want to share with us.  Find something too important to miss.

And remember . . . your job is not just to be in the presence of this wonderful dance, or this beautiful landscape, or whatever.  It’s to craft pictures that draw on your vision.  You are translating a three dimensional moving world into flat still images.  They will only be exciting if you are alive, creating passionately, seeing with all your strength.

If I were to ask you what you’re photographing, I hope you just say something like “that beautiful dancer”.  Let me know that you’re photographing a visual rhythm, or a magnificant sweep of energy, or something else very special that you just saw.

Remember . . . before you photograph, look!  Really look.





October 23, 2009

copyright 2009 by Arthur Fink

copyright 2009 by Arthur Fink

I’m at St. Joseph’s College for their 5×5 dance festivals — to hang a show, photograph rehearsals, and teach a class on dance photography.

I document the work and energy that goes into dance — not just  the final performance.  Being in the studio as dances are created,  or as dancers prepare themselves, feels like being in a delivery room as children are being born.  Amidst pain or anguish, tempered with rhythm and support, and bolstered with faith, new life emerges.  It’s physical, sometimes sensual, often spiritual.  Too often this process is ignored, as image makers look only at the final result — the dance.

The class might have been entitled, “Seeing Dance like a Photographer”, as it will be much more about the process of seeing than about the technique of actually taking the picture.  We’ll watch short live performances, and share our visions of the still images that tell the story of each dance — its energy, emotion, artistry, and visual pattern, and that might express our feeling on seeing this piece.

Talk to me about bringing this program to other venues.  I believe it’s important for dancers to work at seeing themselves as others might see them.

I wish I could copy the entire text here, but more properly I urge you to read the Adam Goipnik’s short “postscript”article about Penn at the New Yorker web site. Here’s the concluding paragraph:

photograph by Irving Penn

photograph by Irving Penn

Penn’s subject—as in “Woman with Long Black Neck” … —is not performance but inner poise, and the dignity of appearances became his central theme. His work is a memorial of a specially privileged era, where the duties of a fashion photographer and the ambitions of an artist could coexist in one serenely realized surface, an age that in retrospect seems to have been one of fine silver, coolly applied

Also on the web site is  a slide show of some of Penn’s best work.

This issue of the New Yorker also has a compelling article by Malcolm Gladwell about the dangers of football.  Gladwell doesn’t call for us to abolish the “sport”, but it’s hard to imagine any other conclusion from the data he presents.

I’ve set out to photograpaph the energy of dance, the culture of dance, the community of dancers.  That might not mean catching the most perfect arabesque, or the highestt leap.  It’s about photographing from within, from the heart, and giving expression to what I saw and felt.

Living at Bates for the whole festival, I was sharing, eating, attending classes and rehearsals with the dancers the whole time Here are just a few of my images from that experience:

All of these dance images, and others on my photography web site, are for sale.  Please inquire.  Also, I have a book, Dance! that is for sale on Amazon, or directly from me.

© 2009 Arthur Fink

© 2009 Arthur Fink

© 2009 Arthur Fink

© 2009 Arthur Fink

© 2009 Arthur Fink

© 2009 Arthur Fink

© 2009 Arthur Fink

© 2009 Arthur Fink

Shameless self-promotion?

October 6, 2009

Order more than you can eat

I shouldn’t need to “promote” myself here.  The range of content already shows me as a careful listener, as a creative thinker, as  somebody who works collaboratively to solve problems.  I’ve  a strong background in technology, but focus on people more than on the gizzards of complex systems.  And I’m a photographer who uses visual images to tell stories in a vivid and lively way.

What I need to say here is that I’m available to work with you, or with you and your “team”.  Email me at or call 207.615.5722.