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Eddie Adams Workshop 2011

Saturday October 29th, 2011

by Bill Cramer

Earlier this month, I participated in the Eddie Adams Workshop which is held each Fall at a farm in the Catskill Mountains of New York. I was a student at the very first workshop in 1988, and this year I helped out as a member of the Black Team, which is comprised of about 50 volunteers who do everything from cutting grass and serving meals to driving people to and from the airport. My job was to run the sound board during the presentations. It was a great opportunity for me to witness talks by some amazing photographers including David Hume Kennerly, Doug Menuez, Howard Schatz, Eugene Richards, Phillip Toledano, Stephen Wilkes, Kwaku Alston, Al Bello, Todd Heisler, Clay Patrick McBride and Carolyn Cole. In addition to listening to speakers and looking at pictures, students have the opportunity to shoot assignments, have those pictures reviewed and critiqued, and perhaps most valuable of all – students get to know all kinds of industry people who can become valuable connections in the years to come.

Also attending this year were three Wonderful Machine photographers Josh Ritchie, Erhin Macksey and Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini.

Josh was a EAW student in 2001. And since then, he has been there every year to “return the favor.” This time around, Josh worked as a team producer. Each of the 100 student photographers is assigned to one of 10 teams. Josh worked with the Bronze team,

For the last four years I have been working directly with the students as a team producer. My job has been to work for months leading up to that early October weekend finding 10 subjects for the ten students under my care to photograph. Each year the teams pick a different theme, this year my team chose “equality.” The producers find subjects that fit into that theme who are willing to open their lives to a photographer for two days. As a producer, I also serve as a big brother so to speak. I answer any questions the students have, calm their fears, and even help during the editing process after their shoots. It’s safe to say that it is and will remain one of the most rewarding things I will do in my professional life.

Josh works with students Diana Markosian (left) and Alison Lentz.

Ehrin Macksey came all the way from his home in Vietnam to attend the workshop. He made it through the rigorous selection process to become one of the lucky 100 students.

One of the most memorable moments of the workshop happened after it all ended. I was sitting drinking a coffee the day after and thinking about my experience when I realized that EAW was like a team building and bonding experience between photographers, editors and the suppliers that work in our industry. For me, this is a very rare experience and I would imagine it is rare in our industry as a whole to connect to people like you do at EAW. I now can see why many of the editors and organizers of EAW use words like “Family” and “Love” to describe how they feel about the participants and the experience in attending it.

I thought to myself, how often do photographers get to just talk to editors you don’t know, one on one, like a normal person where you’re not selling yourself? Most of the time when I talk to an editor I don’t know if they’re very busy and are tired of being bombarded with emails and promos from photographers. So to be able to have a normal conversation that wasn’t 5 minutes long and then later show my work for another 30 minutes was just amazing. For me this made my trip from Vietnam very worth while and something I will remember forever.

Ehrin Macksey reviewing his assignment with Melissa Maltby, left and team producer Suzy Allman.

A picture from Ehrin’s workshop assignment shooting downhill mountain biking.

Sebastiano was also a student attendee this year. His project covering the Calicoon Church ended up earning him an assignment for Newsweek.

Photo by Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini

As for me, my own most memorable moment from the weekend was when Nick Ut introduced me to Bill Epperidge. Both of these guys had shot pictures that were seared into my memory as a child and pointed me toward the career I have now. And it was great to feel connected in some small way to all of that history.

It’s amazing the sound that 10 gallons of gasoline makes when you light it on fire.

Eddie Adams was an Associated Press war photographer best known for his 1968 picture of a Vietcong prisoner being executed, which won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize.

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