March 7, 2021

Dr. Randall Alifano PhD Discusses the Evolution of Image Making from Painting to Photography

Photography is a democratic art form, says Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, putting the power of image creation in the hands of anyone with a wish to do so. While photography is accessible to nearly everyone, continues Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, it remains an art form with many conventions of substance. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD explains that this means that there are agreed-upon methods for creating good pictures.

Photographic techniques, says Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, have developed over time as photographic technology has evolved. There are some simple themes to bear in mind, however, when arranging subjects for photographs and snapshots. All photographs convey some kind of message, and Dr. Randall Alifano PhD says that composition is one of the ways that a photographer shapes the message.

The nature of photos, as two-dimensional representations of reality, lends the medium to certain conventions. People have been making images for millennia, states Dr. Randall Alifano PhD. During that time, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD explains that certain compositional similarities have emerged. When it comes to composition, or the arrangement of objects in a picture, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD says that many of the rules that worked for painting in previous centuries are still applicable to photography. The saying that the eyes are the window to the soul is quite applicable in photography.

Modern photographic developments, points out Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, have inevitably added new considerations to good composition; things that painters never had to think about. These new technical considerations, says Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, include shutter speed, focus and depth of field, which work together to help determine the mood and meaning of a photograph. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD encourages students of photography to remember that the only thing that makes these into “rules” of composition is artistic consensus over time. Over the generations, explains Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, certain types of images, like portraits and landscapes have proven immensely popular. Consequently, the images themselves set certain rules of composition. But these “rules” of composition can be broken at any time, concludes Dr. Randall Alifano PhD, which makes them even more useful as tools for creative direction.

About the Author

In 1985, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD received a Master’s degree in Psychology from Antioch University. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD completed his studies for a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 1986. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD chose CIIS because it was the school he believed offered the best blend of the study of psychology and spirituality.

In October of 2002, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD became an Ordained Minister of The Association of the Integration of the Whole Person (AIWP). Dr. Randall Alifano PhD always had a sense that he would be a counselor. When other children were talking about how they wanted to be police officers or baseball players, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD already knew he would be listening to people being curious about how they lived their life. His first class in Psychology was in high school. The teacher and Randall Alifano would talk long after the last bell, debating things like empathy and altruism and the nature of healing.

At this time Dr. Randall Alifano PhD was already counseling friends and acquaintances and was known as a person that others could speak to about their concerns. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD received a BA in Psychology from SUNY Albany and while there, volunteered on the crisis hotline. Typically reserved for graduate students, he was the only undergrad student given permission to do one on one counseling with students and he supervised the other phone counselors. He also worked at a residential treatment program for emotionally challenged children at this time.

After graduation in 1976, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD hitchhiked through Europe for 8 months questioning himself and others about the existence of God and studying various religions. Back in New York, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD worked at the Coalition for Abused Women in NY, getting an education in violence and gender issues before traveling to San Francisco and beginning graduate work. Interviewing at San Francisco State University, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD told a well-known Philosophy professional that his interest was in finding integration between Psychology and Spirituality. That person, rather disdainfully, responded that they were two distinct traditions and were impossible to bring together.  Dr. Randall Alifano PhD did not end up attending that university.

Antioch University offered a course of study which was profoundly and personally challenging for Dr. Randall Alifano PhD. Encounter groups led by Will Schutz were meant to confront and shatter defenses. They did just that. One learned that being honest and vulnerable did not come naturally, as one tends to hide whatever is believed to be judged and prejudiced. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD also learned that Christ’s statement that “the Truth will set you free” had practical application. Dr. Randall Alifano PhD believes strongly that there is a freedom that results from learning to exercise the choice of saying what is true rather than communicating from habituated, unexamined, defensive patterns.

Just before graduation, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD’s twin boys were born. Dr Alifano had to quit school and started a janitorial service, Snow White Assoc., to support his new family. Additionally he became the Clinical Coordinator of the Men’s Program of the Marin Abused Women’s Services, working directly with violent men, leading groups and organizing and training the volunteer counselors. By 1985, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD was able to finish the required course work, write a thesis, receive his Master’s degree and begin a private practice. Within four months, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD had a full practice.

In 1990 Dr. Randall Alifano began a PhD program in Clinical Psychology at The California Institute of Integral Studies. This was a school that not only believed that Psychology and Spirituality could be integrated, but they included it in their name. Here, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD could study Psychoanalytic theory alongside the mystical traditions of the Desert Fathers, read Jung and Kierkegaard and study meditation and personality testing.  Graduating in 1996, Dr. Randall Alifano’s counseling skills deepened as his theoretical base broadened and his listening became more refined.

In 2002 Dr. Randall Alifano PhD was ordained by The Association for the Integration of the Whole Person as a Minister specializing in Pastoral Counseling.  It was in that year that he began to make a shift away from traditional Psychotherapy and found a calling in Psycho-spiritual Counseling. The tradition of Psychotherapy is anchored in the medical model which assesses for pathology and then treats it. After 26 years of private practice, Dr. Randall Alifano PhD realized that this perspective is biased and that it frequently results in a profound limitation of one’s ability to listen to the complexity of what is being said. He found that when listening it is vitally important to quiet the mind so as to be completely receptive to the speaker.

In 2007 Dr. Kim Chernin, Dr. Renate Stendhal and Dr. Randall Alifano PhD developed and taught a year long program for therapists entitled Advanced Study in Intuitive Listening. They taught the art of listening and wrote articles articulating how one can refine listening skills and empathically surrender in order to hear what can be missed when one is listening through unexamined filters.

Dr. Randall Alifano PhD is grateful that he is, personally and professionally, living the life he had hoped for all those years ago; integrating psychology and spirituality. The individuals and couples that see Dr. Randall Alifano PhD are happy that they are not being diagnosed and treated along pathological lines but are regarded from a much broader perspective.

Dr. Randall Alifano PhD can be reached by email at or by phone at (510) 528-1201. For more information, visit his website at

JFK’s Legacy of Equal Opportunity Legislation

On an historic day in June 1963, President John F. Kennedy laid the groundwork for the future passage of legislation that would make meaningful changes for civil rights. President Kennedy gave a speech and noted that he was seeking “the kind of equality of treatment which we would want for ourselves.” Despite his tragic assassination later that year in Dallas, Texas, his leadership set the wheels in motion for literally one of the most important pieces of legislation that the United States Congress has ever passed. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 put into place key laws that would protect the civil rights of African Americans as never before.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 represented the culmination of many decades of struggle to achieve authentic civil rights for African Americans in the United States. John F. Kennedy had a vision for putting real teeth into the law, giving it the power to truly change the way U.S. citizens worked, played and lived together.  This legislation was a continuation of the work initiated with The Civil Rights Act of 1875 but the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was much more enforceable. The legislation also used language that made it contemporary in an era of the expanding civil rights movement.

The bill was broad and covered many areas of civil life in the United States. It offered a wide range of restrictions against discrimination.  The five “titles” of the bill included many long needed social changes.

Title I — Banned discriminatory voter registration practices that had been used to deny black citizens the right to vote.

Title II – Made it illegal to discriminate in public venues such as restaurants, theaters or hotels based on race.

Title III — Banned discrimination from public facilities such as government services or schools.

Title IV – Insured the enforcement of desegregation in the public school system.

Title V — Made it illegal to discriminate in the workplace, including race-based hiring practices.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 impacted virtually every aspect of public life in America –– from education to the work place, reaching even to public gatherings like entertainment and restaurants. Covering nearly every way that American citizens gathered together as a people, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to ban discrimination against African Americans.

Several other important aspects promoting civil rights were also an important part of the bill. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not address civil rights only for African Americans. In fact, it does not address that population specifically at all.  Instead, this legislation protected the civil rights of all minority groups in America. In doing so, Congress forged powerful allies for the African American cause from outside that community, and put legislation in place that would impact the emerging movement for the equal rights of women.  Doing so, the House and Senate built a strong alliance between these movements which served to add clout not only to the bill’s passage through Congress but also to those who were charged with enforcement of this important legislation.

Today, we admire the courage of the leadership of this country for taking a stand on behalf of equal rights.  Following the vision of President Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson did not let the Kennedy assassination thwart the passage of this bill becoming law. President Johnson put the muscle of the Oval Office behind the bill and gave it the power to push past objections and become the law of the land.

Some historians have suggested that his strong political stand created such animosity in the South that it directly impacted President Johnson’s re-election. But President Johnson believed that passage of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was necessary for the good of the country and for society. He believed that equal rights for African Americans and all Americans was more important than his own political ambitions, and he defied the danger to his political career make sure became the law.

As we step forward into a new decade, it’s important to remember the legacy of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson. The United States of America needs that kind of leadership today and in every generation to come in this great country and throughout the entire world.