JEFFERSONVILLE, NY – Several visual journalists are blogging live from the 22nd Eddie Adams Barnstrorm Workshop that started this weekend at the photojournalist's old barn in upstate New York. Here are their entries:
THE MORNING AFTER : T.J. Kirkpatrick, freelance photojournalist , New York – Tuesday morning is the most important day at the Eddie Adams Workshop, or so said Tim Rasmussen, my team editor, during our introductory meeting. After listening to just the first few speakers, I understood the depth of that statement. The workshop is about what we take out of it – something that is true of, well, any kind of workshop or focused learning experience ... or life. But with everything that happens this weekend, and it's a hell of a whirlwind, it can be easy to lose sight of that essential fact. There's so much excitement in the air, from the students who made it here, from the instructors and staff who keep this running and make the workshop so valuable, and it can all be a bit overwhelming. Oh, and we have assignments to shoot.
But the assignments are not the most important part of this weekend, nor is the fact that we actually made it here. In my very short career, I have been helped along by much better photographers who, for better or worse, encouraged and mentored me. They helped me because they got help when they were young shooters and needed a little push in the right direction. There is so much talent and vision here, so many professionals on the top of the game each in their own ways, and they are all here to impart some of their je ne sais quoi. What we glean from each moment on the farm defines our Eddie Adams experience and shapes our growth from this moment forward.
I tried to write this during the workshop, but each day new bits of wisdom were dropped (and I stayed up progressively later) and it seemed that a single post would work better. In no particular order, I offer some of my favorite insights from the weekend. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of these statements, as most of them are paraphrased. I hope I at least recorded the spirit of the speakers' words.
"A good picture reaches in to your heart and twists it."
- Eddie Adams via Walter Anderson, CEO of PARADE Publications
There are three ways to know oneself: what I am, what I have, and what I seem to be. What you have is easy, it's the things you literally have–a car, a house, a camera. What you seem to be is seen through the eyes of others–what other people think you are, which you will never be happy with. So we're left with what I am, who I am at my very core. That's where you come from as a photographer.
Be the head sled dog because if you're not, your view of the world is the asshole of the dog in front of you.
-Jimmy Colton, Sports Illustrated photography editor
For a picture to be effective, it has to be affective.
Change is key, and understanding our contribution to making even small changes is important. Small changes add up.
-Gerd Ludwig, National Geographic Magazine photographer
Being a caring photographer means making photographs with the heart, soul and mind. Those images touch the soul, move the heart and broaden the mind.
Please don't pigeonhole yourself in to a type of photography.
-Stacy Pearsall, two-time Military Photographer of the Year
Make your own assignments when you're not getting them.
Tolstoy said that art is a transfer of emotion from one person to another. I think it's the same thing with photography.
-Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times photographer
It's all about people power.
I don't know what to expect anymore, this is a fascinating time we're living in. You have to be prepared for just about anything.
Be busy. I'm 75 years old and still get up in the morning. Keep rethinking, find new things!
I had to decide to apply myself more deliberately. Did I want to continue being a utility photographer, jumping around to whatever pops up, or put more heart and more brain in to my work.
-Gary Knight, VII Photo Agency
Don't confine yourself to a broken system, go out and fix it, make a new system.
Photograph with conviction, get completely in to what you shoot. And never, ever, ever take 'no' for an answer.
Photographers become better communicators as they master more crafts.
-Santiago Lyon, Associated Press director of photography
Don't obsess about the future or regret the past, live in the present. We're meant to live, not to be waiting to die.
-Tom Kennedy, former managing editor of multimedia for Washingtonpost.com
Do all you can with what you have in the time you have in the place that you are.
Photography isn't about photography, it's about everything else.
-Sam Garcia, Nikon representative in the New York City region
Take risks, take chances because you may fail but if you don't, you're golden.
-Tim Rasmussen, AME for photography at The Denver Post
Empathy is the most important tool in the camera bag. If you can feel something, can identify with the people you're photographing, only then can you get the viewer to feel something for the subject. If we're good at this, we help others to understand the people we photograph, take them in to our subject's life. And empathy comes from the heart. It all starts there.
"You think Canon is gonna beat God on light?! Now, Nikon maybe ..."
BARNSTORM XXII COMES TO A CLOSE : Claudia DiMartino, photography editor, New York – If only there was more time! That’s pretty much the mantra at the workshop. Never enough time to shoot, edit, sleep, listen to marvelous photographers and view their work. I never felt the need for time more acutely than during the discussion that followed Julie Jacobson’s presentation. Seeing the many raised hands in the audience and hearing the applause, it was obvious that the students wanted more time too, even though their supper was waiting for them. The session when on for an hour, when it was scheduled for half that time.
Jacobson, an Associated Press photographer embedded with a Marine unit in Afghanistan, made photographs of an American soldier as he patrolled and then was mortally wounded. The image has been at the center of much debate about the obligation of the media to report and the censorship and restrictions the U.S. military have put on embedded photographers. (See this NPPA story)
The subject and debate were timely and the right people were there to discuss it. Santiago Lyon, AP’s director of photography, explained some of the thinking behind the decision to initially hold the image and then release it as planned with a full journalistic compliment of text, photographs, and even some of Jacobson’s personal diary entries.
We can all applaud Jacobson’s work and her continued dedication to her journalism that when asked by moderator Hal Buell, former head of AP photos, if the situation was the same would she should the picture, she said without hesitation, “Yes.”
After dinner we really should have been on our way, but I couldn’t leave the workshop without hearing Tom Kennedy’s presentation. He is a pioneer in the multimedia industry and has shaped projects that have earned many awards including the Pulitzer Prize while in positions as managing editor/multimedia at The Washington Post Company, directory of photography at National Geographic Magazine, and deputy graphics editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer. He’s now consulting, speaking, and training for his company, Kennedy Multimedia. If you are pondering your next step in this period of creative destruction in the traditional news business, then his message is very hopeful. Kennedy says this is the time to really define your creative identity. Where you might have blended that identity with your company’s brand, now you can find your unique purpose. Develop a good support network, and yes, change will be scary, but give yourself the gift of fearlessness.
Eddie’s Workshop is done for this year. That’s all from me for now.
MONDAY MORNING: Claudia DiMartino, photography editor, New York – It was hard to close down the 11:30 Club last night, but it was after 2 a.m. and most of the students were running on little to no sleep. I’m not accustomed to these hours either, but I really enjoyed speaking to the students at these portfolio review sessions. The thing that struck me most was their humility about their work.
Whether you are a staffer or a freelancer, you need to promote your current work and use it as a springboard to new projects. Humble is good – too humble is not. Don’t be afraid of putting together formal proposals to current bosses if you are a staffer and for prospective clients if you are a freelancer.
Here are some of the points on writing a proposal we went over last night at the portfolio review:
- State your goal. This is what I want to accomplish with this project.
- This is my shoot list.
- These are the subjects I will be able to interview.
- These are the ways these images can be used – galleries; multimedia stories; images to go with stories.
- Say whether or not you can write about this subject or if you will have a text partner?
- This is how much time I will need.
- This is my budget. Be specific about how the money will be spent.
And so closes the 11:30 Club this year, but I’ve encouraged the folks I reviewed to stay in touch. Tonight [Monday] there will be team presentations and awards, but I’ll be taking off after Tom Kennedy speaks. I’ve got appointments to keep on Tuesday, so I’ll leave the partying to the students tonight.
Yesterday’s afternoon activities included a memorial for great photojournalists, friends of Eddie’s, many who were killed in Vietnam. This year, sadly, Sandy Colton was also included in the tribute.
Sunday’s speakers included: Nan Richardson, Kenneth Greenberg, Bill Eppridge, Douglas Kirkland, Nicholas Nichols, and Gary Knight. A panel on the state of the industry was moderated by MaryAnne Golan. A bonfire up on the hill followed. I went back to the hotel to get ready for the 11:30 Club.
This morning teams will do final edits . There is a sponsor expo. Speakers will starting at 3 p.m. and will include: Michael Edrington, Bill Frakes, Julie Jacobson, and Tom Kennedy.
SUNDAY: Claudia DiMartino, photography editor, New York – Associated Press Pulitzer Prizing-winning photographer Nick Ut and I teamed up last night to do some portfolio reviews after two speakers made their presentations. Al Bello, a Getty photographer, had an excellent presentation explaining how he has made some wonderful sports images. Platon told amusing stories about his celebrity subjects.
Workshop student Andrew Burton showed Nick and I his first multimedia piece on an ecological problem with lake-choking weeds, which was ambitious and well done. He just finished a course two weeks ago on multimedia at Syracuse where he’s a senior. Evengia Arbuageva showed a marvelous book she did documenting nomadic people in Siberia and David Azia had an impressive collection of images of coal mining in China.
A couple of tips:
- Dump the bad pictures! Show your best pictures. If you want an opinion on something experimental, state upfront that it’s a work in progress. But if you know what you have is ordinary, just don’t show it.
- Show your work with confidence. Set a positive tone with your reviewer. You don’t have to boast, but you don’t need to be self deprecating either.
- Some reviewers will challenge your point of view just to see how you handle criticism. You have a right to your opinion. Remember to be professional and polite during these exchanges as all of the students were last night.
We finished up around 1:00 a.m. this morning and I’ll be back for more portfolio reviews tonight at the 11:30 Club.
It sure was cold and damp last night, but this morning promises to be a much better day. Hal Buell and I had a late breakfast at the Liberty Dinner and we are off to Bethel Woods Museum to see their collection of Woodstock and 1960’s memorabilia. We’ll make it back to the farm around 2:30 p.m. for the traditional group photo followed by afternoon speakers. The students are shooting and editing this morning. We even ran into one of the students shooting at the diner this morning. They’re here, there, and everywhere!
SATURDAY: Claudia DiMartino, photography editor, New York – Tired but eager students made it to the 7:30 a.m. bus from the hotel to the farm. They stayed up late last night in their team meetings and had a hurried breakfast at the hotel. The first speaker in the barn started her presentation on time at 8:30 a.m. It was cloudy this morning and chilly.
It’s around 3:30 p.m. now. The sun is breaking through and I’m back at the hotel after a morning of speakers: Stacey Pearsall, Jimmy Colton, Carolyn Cole, Yunghi Kim, John Moore, Jonathan Torgovnik, and Howard Schatz.
A common thread among the speakers: The object of their visual storytelling, stills or video, is to transfer emotion by achieving intimacy with their subjects. The plight of women suffering the consequences of war and those involved in violent conflicts, were the most common subjects of this group of photographers.
Other subjects were explored as well and for the joy of color, composition and imagination, there is Howard Schatz, whose object is to “surprise and delight.” Halleluiah!
Access was an important point made by several of the photographers – embeds, the bottom of a swimming pool at the Olympics, Abu Ghrab prison, a refugee camp, a home. Access requires planning, persistence, charm, and knowing when to push and when to stop.
Jimmy Colton and Carolyn Cole both underscored Stacey Pearsall’s message that photojournalists shouldn’t be afraid to work on the commercial side of photography. It can help to subsidize the kind of work many photographers liked to do for editorial and charitable causes.
After a hamburger and hot dog lunch at the barn the students started shooting at 1 p.m. Dinner is in the field tonight. At 7:45 p.m. their cards are due in and their presence is required for two more long form presentations, one from Al Bello and the other from Platon. First review of the students’ work begins at 10 p.m. The next stop will be the 11:30 Club where the students can sign up for portfolio reviews. I’m one of the reviewers and I’m looking forward to catching up with one my former interns at Bloomberg from the summer of 2007, Andrew Burton. I’m looking forward to seeing his progress. Lights out is supposed to be at 1:30 a.m. More shooting and editing will be done Sunday through 3 p.m. when the presentations continue.
FRIDAY: Peter DiCampo, freelance photographer, New York – First day, and it seems I’ve already broken the first and most important rule of the Eddie Adams Workshop: show up well rested. Instead, I’m (thankfully) flying in from an exhausting weeklong assignment, and mentally preparing for more exhaustion. Today has already been a full schedule of speakers and introductions and more information than I can process. In this state, I’m not about to go into the details. I will, however, write about one glaring absence here that I couldn’t be more thrilled to notice.
Not once today did I hear photojournalism referred to as a “dying field”. The pessimism that seems to reign at large gatherings of my colleagues lately has, thus far, failed to make an appearance. Tightened budgets, lowered rates, trimmed staffs and salaries – these things were hardly mentioned, and if they were, it was only briefly and in passing.
This year, I wasn’t able to attend Visa Pour l’Image, the annual photojournalism festival held in Perpignan, France, but from what I hear the mood was bleak. Here at Barnstorm, the pre-eminent workshop for up and coming photographers, there’s an energy and dedication that is, to say the least, striking. In a room full of 99 of my young peers, most of whom have likely been issued a warning by someone at some point that this industry may soon cease to exist, they seemed eager to learn and to tell stories. Call us all naïve, but I find it heartening.
I’ve talked about what we didn’t do, so now what we did, in brief: we were greeted with cheers as we arrived at “The Barn”; heard emotional accounts of not only Eddie Adams’ life and work, but also those of Sandy Colton, from their friends and family; saw a presentation by photographer Clay Patrick McBride, whose incredible photography is only about 95% as inspiring as his own life story; got an in-depth how-to on multimedia from the MediaStorm experts (who else?); and were introduced to our team members, team leaders, themes, and individual stories.
My Team Editor is Santiago Lyon, Team Leader is Eric Draper, and Team Producer is Mike Stewart. Our theme is “food”, which I had mixed feelings about until I learned that I’m assigned to the beekeeping story. As a general rule, stories that require a protective suit are bound to be fun ...
Time for a last minute edit of my portfolio, and then hopefully I can catch a couple hours of sleep. Up at 6am tomorrow for breakfast, and then it’s off to the bees!
FRIDAY: Claudia DiMartino, photography editor, New York – Grey skies greeted what will be a colorful autumn weekend, literally and figuratively, at the Eddie Adams Workshop in Jeffersonville, New York. One hundred students walked up the hill from their buses to the cheers of a hundred photography professionals who will work with them at this boot camp for young photographers. Dinner was salad, meatballs, eggplant, pasta and chicken served on the barn porch. The Adams' family dog, an energetic boxer named Bruiser, was vigilantly looking for fallen scrapes. Sometimes they don’t fall that far from the plate. Diners beware!
After a welcome from Alyssa Adams, the co-founder of the workshop, Hal Buell, the workshop moderator, introduced Walter Anderson, recently retired publisher of Parade magazine and former editor to Eddie Adams. The students got a sense of the man and the photographer who started the workshop listening to Anderson and watching an excerpt of the film, “An Likely Weapon.”
Jimmy Colton, photo editor for Sports Illustrated, paid tribute to his dad, Sandy Colton, a photojournalist and long time supporter of the Eddie Adams Workshop, who passed away last Christmas. It was also announced that a contribution to the workshop would be made based on the sale of several signed prints in the Colton family collection.
Clay Patrick McBride showed his work, from edgy photo illustrations to a very personal multimedia presentation. After a short break, Brian Storm and Rich Beckman introduced some of the nuts and bolts of creating multimedia presentations.
Sam Garcia of Nikon took the stage to introduce the 10 team leaders who would each lead 10 students during the workshop projects. Team meetings followed.
During certain Barnstorm workshop presentations, a live video stream will be carried here.
Daily pictures will be updated here.