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|| News Item: Posted 2010-11-11

WORKSHOP DIARIES: Eddie Adams Workshop
'Despite my fumbling, it was a life-changing experience, and the best part came the day after the workshop.'

By Jay Drowns

As a student at Barnstorm VII in 1994 I was lost, overwhelmed and unprepared
for the whirlwind four-day workshop. I walked up the gravel drive to Eddie's the first afternoon through a sea of talent photographers. The late afternoon October sunlight illuminated their backs. They applauded, patted me on the back and shook my hand. It can only be described as a surreal experience for me and the other 99 participants.

My experience was similar to that of the other 2,299 photojournalists who have taken that walk. Throughout my weekend as a student I experienced pure exhaustion. I made some big mistakes; among them: Arguing with Adrienne Aurichio about my assignment, testing Chip Maury's patience by being late for a ride back after my shoot and questioning Bill Eppridge in his choice of music for our slideshow. Despite my fumbling, it was a life-changing experience, and the best part came the day after the workshop.

While most students were on the bus back to the airport, faculty and staff were sleeping off the party from the night before, fellow teammate, Laura Camden, and I showed up at the farm, volunteering for cleanup. I could barely keep my eyes open as Laura, now a professor of photography at Northern Arizona University, and I worked like mad to keep up with the pace of Tim Rasmussen, then Black Team Leader and now AME photography at the Denver Post. Tim had the two of us cleaning, hauling and organizing almost
continuously for what seemed like twelve hours but was in reality closer to six.

When the work was complete we were invited to the farmhouse patio for dinner. We were sitting among a dozen or so members of the Black Team after the meal was finished. Eddie poked his head out of the door of the farmhouse and said they were going to preview a documentary on the workshop.

Next came an invitation to come in and watch. Laura and I looked at each other, frozen in our seats not certain if he meant to invite us as well.

During the workshop students were not allowed in the farmhouse. We sat in our chairs as all the Black Team members we had just had a meal with filed into the kitchen. As the last one passed Eddie he looked at us and asked in his gruff voice, "You two. Are you coming?"

We jumped up and filed in past him just like the others. Once inside we joined a larger group of people congregating around an older television set in the front room. Looking around while waiting for the video to begin I realized there were familiar faces in the group.

I am not the type to get excited about meeting and actor or an athlete, but I must confess, with pride, I am a Photo Geek. To my left Gordon Parks sat chatting with Nick Ut. On my right Joe Rosenthal had his feet up in a recliner. John White and John Filo sat near each other on the opposite side of the room talking with a group of Black Team members. There were half a dozen Pulitzer Prize winners all within arm’s reach. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

In the sixteen years since, I have had the privilege of volunteering at thirteen Barnstorm Workshops. I have made great friends at Eddie’s Farm. A few are like brothers and sisters to me. Every year I come away with my
batteries recharged and ready to start a new year. The standard time for resolutions is at New Year’s. For me it is the day after the Eddie Adams Workshop. I thank Eddie and Alyssa Adams for their friendship for their vision in creating the workshop and for allowing me to be part of it.

Jay Drowns is a staff photographer with the Sporting News. You can see his work at his Sports Shooter member page:

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